When 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz chose Stoneman Douglas High School as his target he must have known what he was doing because he could not have found a more inept bunch of clowns to come up against in the process.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel has a lot to answer for, not the least of which is how Deputy Scot Peterson was selected to provide protection to the school. Peterson, who has since resigned, was a 33-year veteran of the department hid outside rather than enter the school to engage Cruz. As a result, 17 people died and many others were injured.

Then there were all of the missed opportunities to charge Cruz over a 10-year period when Israel's department responded to dozens of complaints involving the shooter, two of which involved guns. An arrest would have prevented Cruz from obtaining a license to purchase the weapon he used in the massacre.

The Broward County Sheriff's Office received a phone tip from Massachusetts in November suggesting that Cruz was a potential school shooter and never followed up. Of course, the ineptness of the FBI in the whole affair is even more disturbing.

After years of mass shootings, the discussion has finally shifted from banning guns to finding ways to protecting our schools from invaders. Rational conversations are being had about armed security. Stoneman Douglas did have an armed deputy outside the door when the attack occurred but he chose to do nothing and waited for help to arrive. It was too late.

Seventeen souls perished on Valentine's Day because too many people in positions of power and responsibility failed to do their job over and over again. Deputy Peterson and his family will forever live with the consequences of his inaction. But, they are lucky. Seventeen victims and their families were not so lucky.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3 p.m. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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