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Police union won't defend Parkland, Florida, school resource officer if he faces legal action

When a shooter opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month, sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson, who was on duty as the school’s resource officer, reportedly failed to enter the building as 17 people died — but that’s not why the police union won’t be defending him.

According to Jeff Bell, president of the Broward County Sheriff’s Deputies Association, the union will not be stepping up to help Peterson, not due to his conduct but because he doesn’t pay the union any money, Reason.com reported.

>> Walmart raising age to buy guns to 21 after Florida high school shooting

“From a legal standpoint, we say he was not a ‘dues-paying member,” Bell said, according to Reason.com. “If he was a dues-paying member, I would certainly have a problem with how we are trying him in the public and not giving him his due process. But because he’s not a dues-paying member and I don’t have to represent him? Whatever happens, happens.”

>> PHOTOS: Remembering Parkland Florida school shooting victims

Under Florida’s public sector union laws, Peterson is not required to financially support Bell’s union, but he’s also not legally free to associate with a different bargaining unit instead. While the law enforcement veteran of 32 years is still covered by collective bargaining agreements signed by Broward County Sheriff’s Deputies Association, the union didn’t act on his behalf when he indicated prior to his resignation that was upset that his employer suspended him following the tragedy — and they won’t be coming to his rescue should he face any legal repercussions for his inaction at the high school.

>> Florida school shooting: How difficult is it to purchase a gun in Florida?

Peterson may be eligible to collect a pension of at least $52,000 and is supposed to have half of his health insurance premiums covered the Broward County Sheriff’s Office for life. Although he claims he thought the shooting was taking place outside the school, his failure to enter the building and confront the shooter could still lead to his facing an investigation and ending up in civil court. Either way, the Broward County Sheriff’s Deputies Association won’t be involved.

>> Read more trending news 

“If the sheriff’s office decides not to, say for example, they decide you know what, we’re not going to give you your payouts and we’re not going to give you your insurance or whatever, I’m still not doing anything for him,” Bell said. “So, he doesn’t have the right to file a grievance–well, he can do it as an individual, but when he gets to the level of arbitration, we’re not covering that. If he has any lawsuits, we’re not covering that. Administrative hearings or civil hearings, we’re not covering that.”

Only “dues-paying members” get that level of protection, he added.

Police arrest NC bus driver, say she threatened to shoot up middle school 

A North Carolina school bus driver was arrested for posting threatening social media posts targeted toward Porter Ridge Middle School in Union County and its staff members, police said.

>> Read more trending news

Deputies said Lashaunda Hooker Beachum, 32, is facing two felony charges for making false reports concerning mass violence on educational property.

She mentioned several members of the school staff by name as well as “immigrants” living in suburban estates, officials said.

Deputies said the initial post appeared under a fake name on a local Facebook page, “What’s Up Indian Trail,” around 2 a.m. Friday, but was posted again a few hours later.

Beachum was reported to the Union County Public Schools and Union County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated.

Joshua Gregory said both of his children had interactions with Beachum, and after reading her threatening post, he said he is relieved she is no longer behind the wheel.

"Not knowing when you'll see them again or that they'll be OK is very scary," he said.

Gregory said his son goes to Porter Ridge Middle School. Friday, he made his son stay home, fearing threats made on social media would be carried out.

"The bottom drops when you hear stuff like that,” Gregory said.

Gregory was surprised to find out the person behind the threats was his son's school bus driver.

>> Teacher who reportedly hosted white nationalist podcast under investigation

"It just blew our mind,” he said. “What if my kids were on the bus and she got angry?"

School officials said that Beachum started working with Union County Public Schools on Jan. 3. She was fired Friday.

“It just goes to show you what lengths people are willing to go to when they have evil in their heart,” Gregory said.

Porter Ridge had additional security on campus Friday.

"I pray every day that when my children leave me that God's going to take care of them,” Gregory said.

The motive behind the two messages allegedly posted by Beachum is not clear, but detectives said they don’t believe Beachum intended on acting on the threat.

“The safety of our kids and schools is one of our highest priorities,” Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said in a news release. “Any comment, rumor or social media post mentioning violence on school property is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Florida Senate to vote on school safety bill that excludes ban on assault rifles

The Florida Senate will vote on a school safety bill Monday.

Senators hammered out the legislation during a rare special session in Tallahassee over the weekend.

The push for school safety and gun control measures comes in the wake of the Parkland mass shooting, in which 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day

>> On WFTV.com: Trump says arming teachers in schools 'up to states'

The Senate spent nearly eight hours Saturday debating dozens of amendments to the 100-page bill before finally approving the legislation for a final vote on Monday.

Democratic proposals to ban assault rifles and large-capacity magazines were rejected, as was a Democratic proposal to strip language from the bill that would create a program to arm teachers who have gone through law-enforcement training if school districts choose to take part in the so-called marshal plan.

>> On WFTV.com: Police advocacy group says it opposes arming teachers

It was clear that senators were divided on the bill, and not just on party lines. While crafted by Republicans, some GOP senators still opposed it because they don't agree with raising the minimum age to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 or requiring a waiting period to buy the weapons.

Democrats believe the legislation doesn't go far enough in some ways and goes too far in others. And while some oppose the bill, others believe it's at least a first step toward gun safety.

>> Company working on bulletproof doors in wake of school shootings

Democrats want to ban weapons such as the AR-15 assault-style rifle, which was used in the Parkland attack. Many also oppose arming teachers. The bill also includes provisions to boost school security, establish new mental health programs in schools, and improve communication between schools, law enforcement and state agencies.

Jeff Xavier, a survivor of the Pulse attack, was hoping the legislation would include a ban on assault rifles.

>> Walmart raising age to buy guns to 21 after Florida high school shooting

“I think that, as Americans, we do have a right to arm ourselves, however, I do not believe that high-powered, high-velocity (guns) should be available to the general public,” said Xavier.

But much of the debate Saturday revolved around gun control and whether people should have a right to own an assault rifle.

"Every constitutional right that we hold dear has a limitation," said Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer. "These are just military-style killing machines and the right of self-defense and the ability to hunt will go on."

Republicans argued that banning such weapons would violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

>> Florida school shooting: How difficult is it to purchase a gun in Florida?

"Our founding fathers weren't talking about hunting, and they weren't talking about protecting themselves from the thief down the street who might break in," said Republican Sen. David Simmons. Simmons said people need guns to protect themselves from a tyrannical government.

"Adolf Hitler confiscated all the weapons – took all the weapons, had a registry of everybody – and then on the night of June 30th, 1934, sent out his secret police and murdered all of his political opponents," Simmons said. "You think it doesn't happen in a free society? It does."

>> Read more trending news 

The Legislature wraps up its annual session on Friday. Lawmakers are scrambling to take some kind of action before then. The full House has yet to take up its version of the bill.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott has been lobbying lawmakers to pass his plan to assign at least one law-enforcement officer for every 1,000 students at a school. Scott is opposed to arming teachers.

6th-grader sickened, suspended after unknowingly eating pot-laced cookie at school, family says

A DeKalb County, Georgia, father said his daughter was suspended from middle school for unintentionally eating a marijuana cookie in class.

>> Watch the news report here

Diamond Brooks, 11, said she felt disoriented at Columbia Middle School on Friday morning and couldn't figure out why. Then she said she remembered the cookie that she says a girl in her sixth-grade class offered her an hour earlier.

>> On WSBTV.com: Bus carrying Georgia college team overturns; driver arrested

"I didn't pay attention when I was getting it, so I just got it and ate it," she said.

Diamond Brooks father told WSB-TV's Matt Johnson that an ambulance brought her to a hospital where doctors told them she had marijuana in her system.

>> On WSBTV.com: Police, friends start new search for missing CDC worker

Brooks and her family claim the marijuana came from the cookie.

"If she told me what was in it, I never would have got it from her," Brooks said.

>> On WSBTV.com: Family of man accused of killing son says he should have been locked up before

The DeKalb County School District sent the following statement:

"The student ingested a dessert, but it cannot confirm if it was laced with a drug. Our investigation will shed more light on what occurred."

While the district investigates, Diamond Brooks' family said she will be at home because the district suspended her.

"She didn't know what it was. She didn't intentionally do no drugs," Gary Brooks said.

>> Read more trending news 

Gary Brooks showed Johnson the paperwork doctors gave him when they treated Diamond for confusion on Friday morning.

He said he remembers watching her throw up from her hospital bed.

"If something happened to her, I would have lost it," said Gary Brooks.

Now, he said he loses his temper when thinks about how he has to fight to get his daughter's suspension overturned.

"When you spike somebody's drink, they don't know, so they are supposed to get punished for what happened? That don't make sense," Gary Brooks said.

Company working on bulletproof doors in wake of school shootings

A South Carolina company is trying a new way to protect against deadly school shootings.

>> Watch the news report here

R2P Innovations has been working on bulletproof doors for the past four years.

>> Walmart raising age to buy guns to 21 after Florida high school shooting

The doors are capable of withstanding assault rifles and high-power, military-grade weapons.

Tony Deering, the company's CEO, said the door would be a lasting contribution to school security.

>> Read more trending news 

“Some instances, the shooter was actually outside of the classroom shooting into the classrooms through the door,” Deering said about the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida. "That would have never occurred in an instance where a particular door solution was employed."

Each door costs roughly $4,000 and weighs 285 pounds.

'We'll carry you': Students’ active shooter plan for teacher in wheelchair goes viral

The day after a gunman killed 17 students and staff at a Florida high school, Ohio schoolteacher Marissa Schimmoeller was particularly emotional. 

It was the first time Schimmoeller, a first-year English language arts teacher at Delphos Jefferson High School in Delphos, had to face her students in the immediate aftermath of such a tragedy. And she knew the question she dreaded most would come. 

Soon after class began, it did, Schimmoeller shared in a Facebook post later that afternoon.

“Mrs. Schimmoeller,” a freshman girl asked. “What will we do if a shooter comes in your room?”

Schimmoeller, who uses a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy, wrote that her stomach sank as she began her planned speech about the plan in place in the event of an active shooter. Then came the hardest part. 

“I want you to know that I care deeply about each and every one of you and that I will do everything I can to protect you,” Schimmoeller wrote that she told her students. “But, being in a wheelchair, I will not be able to protect you the way an able-bodied teacher will. And if there is a chance for you to escape, I want you to go. Do not worry about me. Your safety is my number one priority.”

The students were silent for a few moments as her words sank in, Schimmoeller wrote. Then another student raised her hand.

“Mrs. Schimmoeller, we already talked about it. If anything happens, we are going to carry you,” the girl said, according to Schimmoeller

Schimmoeller said she “lost it” when she realized that her students already had their own plan in place to protect her. 

“With tears in my eyes as I type this, I want my friends and family to know that I understand that it is hard to find the good in the world, especially after a tragedy like the one that we have watched unfold, but there is good. True goodness,” the teacher wrote. “It was found in the hearts of my students today.”

Schimmoeller’s post almost immediately went viral, with more than 25,000 people sharing it on their own pages. Since then, the 24-year-old teacher has done interviews with media from Ohio to Ireland. 

Schimmoeller told “Today” that she felt the need to tell her story because she knew that other people shared her anger over the violence they were witnessing and needed a reminder that good exists in the world.

“When I was in front of those amazing kids as they told me they would carry me out of our building if, God forbid, we were faced with a situation like the one in Florida, it occurred to me that every child, every one of my students, is so full of light and goodness,” Schimmoeller said

Schimmoeller also did an interview with Cork’s 96FM in Cork, Ireland, in which she spoke about her disability and how it played into the fear surrounding school shootings.  

“I think students are a little on edge, especially with the violence in Florida and it being shared on social media through videos of the survivors, and I think the fear is a real one,” Schimmoeller said in the interview

She said, however, that she wrote her Facebook post to focus instead on the goodness and positivity she sees at work every day. She said she initially worried about whether she could be an effective teacher from a wheelchair, but that her students are always willing to help her by passing out papers to the class or writing on the board.

>> Read more trending news

Schimmoeller said that in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day, she pondered how she would make her students feel safe when she feared her own limitations. 

“I realized that, my freshmen especially being new to this building, we should review the … training we’ve all undergone. I also wanted to make clear to them that I would do everything in my power to keep them safe,” Schimmoeller said. “Because ultimately, I think some of their instinct was to protect me, being that I am in a more vulnerable position.”

She said she wanted students to know that their first instinct should be to see to their own safety. 

“I’m sure that my co-workers and staff at the school would keep me safe, but it was up to me to make sure that (the students) knew that my priority was their safety,” she said. “And if worse comes to worse, I wanted them to leave me because their safety is more important than my own.”

She told the students she would die for them, and went over with them ways in which they could use her chair’s wheels as weapons against an armed intruder, Schimmoeller told the radio station

Regarding her students’ reaction to her speech, Schimmoeller said she was overcome by their willingness to risk themselves to save her.  

“I started to cry when I thought about how incredible it is that these young people who I’ve known only since August were willing to do that for me,” she said

Schimmoeller said her first-period students were not the only ones to show compassion that day. She gave the same talk in all of her classes, and one student offered to give her a “piggyback ride” if need be. 

Other students said it would not be OK if anything happened to her. 

“I had one student say, ‘Well, Mrs. Schimmoeller, nothing can happen to you,” she said. The world needs more Mrs. Schimmoellers. Who’s going to be there to teach kids like me?”

“And that really touched my heart, and I think that’s what drove me to write the Facebook post.”

The public’s response to Schimmoeller’s viral post was worldwide, with commenters praising the young teacher for the inspiration she is to her students. 

“There are teachers that make a difference in our children’s lives, and you most surely are one of them,” one woman wrote. “Thank you from a parent in Missouri.”

“Marissa, you are an amazing teacher to be able to inspire your student,” a man wrote. “Fantastic. Touched our hearts down here in Australia. Keep up your great work.”

Others praised the students. 

“Way to go, DJHS students,” another woman wrote. “A testament to you, your families and your teacher. Thanks for reminding the world that we should take care of each other.”

Students finish first day of school since shooting at Marjory Douglas High

Students returned to class Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, two weeks after 17 people were killed on Valentine’s Day. 

>> Read more trending news 

Florida school shooting: 25 of 45 calls to Nikolas Cruz's house were about brother, report says

Despite the Broward County Sheriff’s Office’s claim that deputies were called to Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz’s home 23 times before the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, records obtained by CNN paint a different picture and reveal that the alleged gunman wasn’t the only subject of the calls.

>> On Rare.us: New poll shows that millennials are no more liberal on gun control than older generations

>> Florida school shooting survivors return to campus, try to resume normalcy

According to the documents, the Sheriff’s Office received at least 45 calls from 2008 to 2017 in relation to Cruz or his younger brother Zachary, 18 — even more than the 39 previously thought, CNN reported. At least 19 of the calls were about Nikolas Cruz, beginning when he was as young as 9. An additional 25 calls, however, were made about his brother, alleging behavior ranging from running away to hitting his mother. It’s unclear which boy the remaining call was about.

>> Parkland school shooting survivor asks tourists to boycott Florida until gun reform passes

Listing a unique identifying number, dispatch date and time and description for each call, the police descriptions include mentions of a “mentally ill person,” “child/elderly abuse,” “domestic disturbance,” “missing person” and more, with the majority of calls resulting in “no written report.” It’s unclear why a discrepancy exists in the number of calls reported by the Sheriff’s Office and the media, as the agency has not yet responded to requests for an explanation.

Days after police say Nikolas Cruz gunned down 17 people with an AR-15 and injured over a dozen more at the school, Zachary was involuntarily committed for a psychiatric exam, the New York Post reported. He broke his silence on the massacre over the weekend, posting a photo of the two boys smiling and embracing as kids. He also wrote, “Appreciate all the positive messages” on Facebook.

>> Read more trending news 

Information on the calls come as Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel faces growing public criticism and calls for his resignation for failing to follow up on multiple red flags, including the numerous house calls and several tips that Cruz may have been planning a school shooting. When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if he takes “any responsibility for the multiple red flags” that were brought to his office’s attention, he replied, “Jake, I can only take responsibility for what I knew about. I exercised my due diligence. I have given amazing leadership to this agency.”

Florida high school shooting survivor says young activists will keep gun debate alive

David Hogg, a survivor of the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, believes that youth will help him and other activists in the fight for stronger gun laws.

>> Click here to watch

“This will be a generation-long thing, and this is just getting started,” he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday while speaking on his age. Of the youth of the new group of activists, he said, “I really think that’s what’s going to sustain this process.”

Hogg had similar thoughts over the weekend while speaking about conspiracy theorists who made accusations that he and his fellow classmates were actors.

>> Parkland school shooting survivor asks tourists to boycott Florida until gun reform passes

“I’m so sorry to each and every one of you that is out there attacking us as witnesses and even some of the victims of this incident,” he said over the weekend during a segment on MSNBC’s “AM Joy.” “It’s truly saddening to see how many of you have lost faith in America, because we certainly haven’t. And we’re never going to. You might as well stop now, because we’re going to outlive you.”

“These people that have been attacking me on social media, they’ve been great advertisers,” he said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” “Ever since they started attacking me, my Twitter followers are now a quarter of a million people. People have continued to cover us in the media. They’ve done a great job of that, and for that, I honestly thank them.”

>> Read more trending news 

Hogg is not the only one using his age as an advantage.

Fellow survivor and activist Delaney Tarr said that she and others her age “have nothing to lose” at a Tallahassee rally. She promised to come “after every single” lawmaker and demand that they “take action.”

Parkland school shooting survivor asks tourists to boycott Florida until gun reform passes

David Hogg, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, is now calling for tourists to boycott Florida during spring break to raise awareness for gun control.

>> Florida school shooting survivor's mother says her family has received death threats

“Let’s make a deal DO NOT come to Florida for spring break unless gun legislation is passed,” Hogg tweeted to more than 280,000 followers. “These politions [sic] won’t listen to us so maybe the’ll listen to the billion dollar tourism industry in FL.”

>> On Rare.us: Florida high school shooting survivor doesn’t think the NRA cares about its members

According to WTVJ, Hogg said in a video that tourists shouldn’t come to Florida for spring break or summer vacations, saying, “How can you expect people from across the nation and the world to come to South Florida if we can’t guarantee their safety because of the inaction of these politicians? I understand there will be economic ramifications from this, but that is only if these politicians refuse to take quick and swift action to resolve these gun issues.”

>> Florida school shooting survivors return to campus, try to resume normalcy

Tourists spend more than $100 billion each year while visiting Florida, according to Oxford Economics.

>> Read more trending news 

Hogg also suggested that tourists instead go to Puerto Rico, tweeting, “It’s a beautiful place with amazing people. They could really use the economic support that the government has failed to provide.”

>> See the tweet here

Hogg has been vocal since the Valentine’s Day shooting at his high school. He has criticized the actions of the NRA and spokeswoman Dana Loesch, claiming they “don’t serve [the members of the NRA],” and he had to prove he wasn’t a “crisis actor” after he and his family received death threats.

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