CORAL SPRINGS POLICE OFFICERS emotionally recalled the terrifying moment they entered the Florida school where a gunman was on the loose while deputies coward outside. THE COMPLETE PRESS CONFERENCE IS BELOW:
Coral Springs Police Department officers Chris Crawford and Sgt. Jeff Heinrich recently recounted their heroics during a
local news conference, describing the ‘surreal’ events of that fateful Valentine’s Day. Sgt. Heinrich was overcome with emotion so Officer Tim Burton began by telling his story of arriving on the scene:
It’s ‘as bad as you can imagine’Officer Chris Crawford, who patrols near the Coral Square Mall, heard reports of the school shooting on Feb. 14. He drove so fast to get to the school, at about 100 mph, that he scared himself, he said. He was one of the first on the scene and helped rescue a 14-year-old boy.
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He grabbed his rifle, and started running.
He was maybe the 12th or 13th officer to arrive, and a sergeant was bringing out an injured boy. The sergeant said the teen had been shot “a bunch of times” and told Crawford to take care of him.But the teen couldn’t make it to the ambulance, he couldn’t breathe, he said.
A second officer put pressure on the child’s back with his knee.
The boy had also been wounded in his shoulder, thigh and arm.
Another girl Crawford treated had gunshot or shrapnel injuries to her wrist and toe, he said.
After the paramedics took over, Crawford, who served as a Marine, ran to the 1200 building, where much of the shooting took place.
He found a classroom and storage area where 70 students and three teachers were hiding.
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He said he had to convince them to remove the barricades to the door — he slipped his ID under the door as proof and was then interrogated about his ID number.
“I forgot my phone or I would have FaceTimed with them,” he said. “I had to negotiate with [them] to come out. I don’t blame them.”
What he saw the day of the shooting was “awful,” he said.
It’s “as bad as you can imagine — times 10,” he said. “I have a 2-year-old. I don’t want to send him to school.”
‘By the grace of God’
Sgt. Jeff Heinrich was
in gym clothes and off duty that day. He was watering the lawn of the school. His son, a junior at the school, plays football and baseball there.
When he heard the first round of gunshots, he thought they were fireworks. “I thought kids were screwing around,” he said.
When the second volley began, he knew.
OFFICER HEINRICH WAS OVERCOME WITH EMOTION:
He dropped the hose and started running toward the school where he found a wounded student.
He tended to the boy with a first-aid kit stored in a locker room, and he called police for help.
The boy described where the shooter had been and what he was wearing. The information he provided the sergeant was “spot on,” Heinrich said.
When officers arrived, Heinrich grabbed a vest and a spare rifle from the trunk of a cruiser, and started hunting for the shooter.
He gets choked up when he thinks about what he saw.
In addition to his son, Heinrich’s wife also was at the school. She’s a teacher there. His wife and son both were inside the school, and he didn’t immediately know if they were OK.
They survived “by the grace of God,” he said.
Heinrich said he on Friday night planned a visit to the hospital to meet the boy he helped.
“It was surreal,” he said. “You never hope it would happen and it did.”