Broward County Deputy Scot R. Peterson is a coward. On this point everyone agrees.
His Sheriff, Scott Israel, publicly stated that he was “devastated, sick to my stomach” after learning about his deputy’s apparent refusal to enter the building looking for what turned out to be Nikolas Cruz with an AR-15. When questioned about what Scot Peterson should have done, the Sheriff simply said, “Went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer.”
A student on national TV called Peterson, a father of four, a “coward,” claiming a friend saw the deputy on the first floor refusing to engage the shooter.
Even the president of the United States, a stalwart supporter of law enforcement, made a statement about the 54-year-old school resource officer: “That’s a case where somebody was outside, they’re trained, but they didn’t react properly under pressure or they were a coward.”
Case closed. A coward in uniform responsible for 17 deaths, and he is School Resource Officer (SRO) Scot R. Peterson—we have our villain.
Or do we?
Questions Worth Pondering
I don’t know the answer to that question at this point. No one does. We don’t have the facts. No real timeline. Apparently not even all of the radio transmissions. But, either way, let’s tell the entire world that Deputy Scot Peterson is a coward.
But why do we need to make such a devastating charge so quickly? Before the facts are in, the bodies are buried, the victims mourned—why?
Because we want this tragedy to be simple, on both sides. We want to find someone to blame for the insanity and madness, so we can delude ourselves in our grief to thinking we can have a quick fix.
Problem is, this massacre, like all the other maniacal massacres before it, is anything but simple. It was complex and chaotic. It’s causes are difficult and uncomfortable to discuss.
It also brings out the worst in many, including politicians, police bureaucrats, the media, and the pontificating activists. I’ve seen cops and police trainers looking for the easy out too. Everybody wants change. Everybody wants action. Trouble is, we’ve never been more at odds with one another.
Here are those responsible, the villains, at least according to those with the biggest platforms.
The National Rifle Association (NRA). I’m not a member and have angered some who are because I am in favor of sensible gun control, which means different things to different people. The NRA has more than five million members of various persuasions. The NRA’s spokesperson Dana Loesch, who I find to be articulate and pretty reasonable, has become a chief target. By taking part in a townhall meeting on CNN, she was personally called a “murderer,” “child killer,” and there were shouts to “burn her.” Security was necessary to get her out of the building.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They admit that they dropped the ball when it came to Nikolas Cruz. They ignored a warning that Cruz might attack a school weeks before that fatal Valentine’s Day. They failed to act on a Jan. 5 tip from “a person close to Nikolas Cruz,” who said the 19-year-old’s “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting” alarmed the person to the point that there was an urgent need to alert authorities, who promised to take action. The FBI didn’t. But here’s the thing: There are constitutional rights afforded to all of our citizenry. Contrary to clueless pundits, short of Cruz telling an agent that he plans on going to the school and shooting it up in the next 20 minutes, isolating him from the public and stripping away his freedom is close to impossible. But not as impossible as putting him under 24-hour surveillance. Neither would have happened with or without the contact.
Broward County Sheriff’s Office. They had dozens of contacts with Cruz. He was investigated by a state social services agency. The signs were there. But even if the police tried to initiate action under The Florida Baker Act that allows mental health facilities to hold a person up to 72 hours for an evaluation, Cruz almost assuredly wouldn’t have been hospitalized against his will.
The Second Amendment. I’ve listened to those poor traumatized children who have become instant activists demanding change. One said the Second Amendment needs to disappear, along with the NRA. The problem is that the U.S. does have an amendment, as well as an estimated 88.8 guns for every 100 people, totaling over 300 million. Guns are present in about 33% of American households. More than 99% of those people are responsible and of no threat to public safety.
So then how do we stop these tragic events? I don’t know specifically, but I do know it needs to be a serious conversation with an acknowledgement of the complexity. Here are some salient features of these too-common events: mental health issues, access to weapons, cultural glorification of violence, lack of parental guidance, and the role of media. Let’s talk.
Mental health. As mentioned, dicey, confusing, fraught with legal perils, a profession short of money and qualified personnel.
Access to weapons. We noted, above, the numbers of guns. Add to this popular support for the second amendment.
Culture and lack of parental guidance. Do we really believe that the plethora of violent movies, TV shows and video games that glorify violence aren’t going to impact adolescents, particularly young males? What about those raised without fathers or even decent male role models? No one to pay attention to what they are doing, building, and saying?
Finally, the media. Young people, particularly disturbed adolescent males, are prone to copy others. (They are also prone to laziness, cowardice, and poor reasoning, which is why positive male role models are so important. See prior point.) Without assuming malice on the part of television networks let’s lay out some facts: 1) Networks make their money by attracting qualified viewers; 2) Incessant coverage of school shootings is good for ratings (and their bottom line). Maybe the prudent thing would be not to overemphasize these events? Not put grieving, raw high school students on camera just days after traumatic experiences? Do nothing to aggrandize the killer, let alone mention his name?
Too much to ask?
Want someone to blame? Blame Nikolas Cruz. For his own sick and delusional reasons he decided to kill children who could’t protect themselves. Beyond that … We should blame ourselves.
Nobody in this debate wants another Parkland. Everyday in this country 19 children are shot. Let’s stop shouting and start listening. You want to have honest conversations? It isn’t easy. But it’s worth it.
Lt. It wasn’t just cowardice, it was dereliction of duty. Mission fail. The primary mission of SRO is to prevent or at least minimize armed threats to campus. That is why we authorize to have armed officer on school grounds. In your own words, more or less, “Run to the source of gunfire. “. This did not happen. A scenario, that SRO was tasked with stopping, was trained and authorized to stop, the exact threat for which SRO was created, unfolded without interference of SRO. The gunman, went through his plan unopposed, then had time and opportunity to ditch his weapon, mix with crowds, and depart campus, unknown, unseen, unchallenged by SRO. Absolute mission fail, which calls into question effectiveness of SRO program. Earlier you ascertained that officer “Risk their lives for strangers. Run to the sound of gunfire instead away. Do an amazing job.” This incident was exact opposite, almost. Three other members of Broward Cowards Office joined him, and took up positions. Meaning they remained outside, and under no threat. Four armed officers seeing and hearing gunshots, seeing and hearing students run out of the buildings, remained stationery and assumed defensive positions. What for? In some hope that gunman , or gunmen, will exit the building move towards the LEOs, who would then engage from covered positions. Perhaps wait for SWAT/ESU to arrive. This was ‘officer safety’ exercise, the analogue under UCMJ is ‘Cowardice Before The Enemy.’ A capital offense under UCMJ. Officer from another department arrived, Coral Springs PD, I believe. Though they arrived too late to stop the killing, they went in immediately. A commendable act. For Broward County Sherrif’s, this was a total mission fail, a catastrophe, due to cowardice of one of their own, and perhaps three others from their department. Dpy. Peterson’s mission was to run to the gunfire, and engage the suspect with his weapon, even if he only had his pistol. That was his job, that was his duty, and he failed in both, and 17 students and staff perished because of his inaction. The fact that how quickly, almost immediately he resigned and put in for retirement is telling. Your profession is in deep deep crisis. You are cowards. Some more then others, others less. But overall you are mission fail, and cannot be trusted with citizen safety, or law enforcement. It falls unto people like myself to accelerate your fall, and replacement with LE force that will do its job and accomplish its mission. An Admiral during WWII, I beleive it was Adm. Halsey. Said that those that put on uniform, collect pay, accrue retirement, without intention or ability to perform the duties of their office, are not just cowards, but thieves. Stealing from the public. I believe, that municipal and county level law enforcement today, in this nation of ours, fit the description of cowards and thieves. Former deputy Peterson is absolutely a coward and a thief. Thirty years in LE, all of it in Broward Coward’s Office, only to find out, after three decades, that he is a failure at his chosen profession. You, LE, are so focused on officer safety, that you have forgotten your duty. Mission First, People Always. Note, mission (your duty) come first, you come second. The LEO today has forgotten that, or simply ignores it. You are ROADs, LIFERs. What a shame and waste of tax dollars.
You do make some valid points Demitri. But, we don’t know the absolute facts, but let us say all that is true. That officer doesn’t represent all 800,000 officers in the 18,000 departments. The stats are irrefutable, the reality is irrefutable, officers do move towards the gunfire 99% of the time. We don’t know if it is confusion that caused the hesitation in this case or what. But we do know that this is not a one issue problem which was the point of the article. Broward stopped arresting students who committed crimes, several years ago as to not unduly burden their record when they applied for colleges and sought jobs. Alternative programs were the result that overloaded case workers. Cruz demonstrated that he was unhinged, yet no one, including law enforcement prevented it because of an incredible caseload and policies of intervention rather than detention. Complexity is the point of the article, though as you have pointed out many times in your comments, you just hate cops, calling all cowards and thieves when the reality is obvious to anyone who isn’t as bias as you.
Jim, trying to have rationale discussion with someone like DK is like administering medicine to a corpse, pretty much pointless!
But, your compassion for all forms of life, even DK is noteworthy…
Between execution style murder of Daniel Shaver, failiure of CJS to hold shooter and his Sgt accountable, and this latest abortion, one is not left with much trust or impression of today’s law enforcement in U.S.
LE position is that it is not responsible for murders commited by police, and LE is not responsible for epic fails , as Parkland shows. But no shortage of lionization of entire LE proffesion when officer saves a kitten .
Shaver execution made me sick to my stomach. His executioner’s acquittal left me near tears. Two LAPD patrol officers were sentenced, after pleading no contest, to serial rapes spanning three years or more.
LE proffesion is broken. Its members do not rate trust nor benefit of the doubt. Not anymore. About 9-12% , possibly 15% of currently active LEO’s in US are bad, dirty, dangerously incompetent, or criminals with badges. How is an average citizen to tell the good and the bad at contact? They cannot, until it is too late. You want to humanize proffesion! Human are a-holes. They lie, steal , cheat, abuse authority, abuse the weak, cover up their misdeeds.
I noticed that you have chosen not to examine Dan Shaver OIS. An incident that absolutely shows danger of modern police to Americans. The phsycotic glee with which former Mesa PD Sgt. Langley informs Mr. Shaver that he is about to die, and former ofc. Brainsford shooting of Shaver with patrol rifle, is bone chiling. Nor have you examined Wichita Kansas SWATing shooting of an innocent, unarmed citizen. With zero warning. But some kid’s high school project gets your full attention. Now you are defending former Deputy Scott Peterson’s lack of action in preventing murders, that he was on scene of and failed to do his duty.
Yet it is I who is biased. I have a view of law enforcement that comports with reality. You are just afraid that if your examinations put LE proffesion in bad light, police officers will decline to sign up for your courses. Hitting you in the wallet. On that you would probably be correct. LE proffesion is in denial over basic fact. That quality and suitability of municipal and county LE officers have degraded to a point where they are too dangerous to patrol. Too incompetent or ineffective to be entrusted with public safety. As such they present a clear and present danger to life, security, and safety of citizens they are sworn to protect. Happily I have no such detterent.
Dmitri: You seem to have very high standards and expectations of your law enforcement officers. I have no problem with that at all. I agree with you in that respect. Though not expected of a regular citizen, you may hold yourself to the same high standards and that would be great. I have no doubt if you became a law enforcement officer somewhere, you would continue to hold yourself and your co-workers to that same high standard – also a good thing. No doubt as well you would have no issue with helping to cull out the bad apples. Few in percentage as I believe those are, that kind of help would be useful. All those things being said, why not pin on the badge and help us out from the inside. For all I know you might not be able to do that because of age (at either end of the spectrum), or physical ability or health, but you certainly seem to have the interest. So, how about it – find a community you care about (hopefully you live there now), join up and help improve your community and the profession all at once – and get paid to do it! Well…?
One career at a time, and municipal law enforcement is not one of them. I suspect it would be blissfully short, if I had joined your profession. I am incapable of doing what I see LEO do. For example, lets take Shaver execution OIS. I imagine, had I been in former Mesa PD Ofc. Brailsford’s place on response team, I would (or at least I hope to have done) not shoot. Additionally, when Sgt. Langley started to give contradictory bizarre unfollowable commands, ‘crawl with you legs crossed, fall on your face….. or you may not survive’ , artificially creating a dangerous situation, I would have lowered my weapon, told Sgt. Langley to shut up ,with me relieving him of team leadership (aka I got this). Then I would have told , in calm voice, for Shaver to remain still, do not move and that I am coming to cuff him. Then I would move towards him, with other officers, except Langley, covering me, hugging the right side wall so as not to obstruct LOF. Is that the best tactic? NO. Would I be practicing officer safety? I would be in grey zone. Would I be placing myself in danger? Maybe. Shaver could have been acting, feigning fear, but that is unlikely. Could there have been a hidden shooter behind closed door. Maybe, but that is not cause as to how former Sgt. Langley and former Ofc. Brailsford handled the incident. You don’t get to shoot merely because you think there maybe a threat. You have to see it. Unless you are an American municipal LEO. Could there have been an acid dripping alien in the ceiling? Machine gun toting unicorn? Who knows. Whatever could have beens that day, I would not have shot a crying suspect begging for his life. I am incapable of such wanton cruelty. I cannot do it. Once suspect (Shaver) was cuffed and secured, I would attempt to relieve Sgt. Langley of his weapon, and inform him that I believed him to have committed a crime of attempted murder. Perhaps an attempt to arrest him. My contribution to the incident report would be state that I believed that Langley was setting up a justifiable shooting as cover for murder of Mr. Shaver, and that my actions were intended to save life of a civilian suspect. Tragically for Mr. Shaver, there were two psychopaths on a five man response team , determined to kill him, with other three officers failing to stop Langley and Brailsford, thus failing in their duty. Now, how much longer would I remain a sworn peace officer at Mesa PD,had I done that? I suspect that time would be very short. In my opinion, that was the worst OIS incident, an atrocity. Worse then former NYPD Ofc. Justin Volpe decided to anally violate a suspect with a toilet plunger handle, leave suspect bleeding on the bathroom floor, and parade a feces covered wooden stick around the precinct station. Worse then NYPD Street Crimes team emptying contents of their pistol magazines , at an unarmed suspect presenting no threat, becouse one of them had slipped and fell. I cannot do something like that. But American LEOs can, and have, and thus I cannot join LE profession. Collectively , LE profession is so prioritized around officer safety, and policy adherence, that it has de-prioritized, and forgotten , its duty. You are not the good guys, that you think you are.
Out of literally millions of police citizen contacts every year with only about 4% with any use of force used at all – most without injury to anyone, and 800,000 of us, we’re all bad? Really? Without disclosing where or company name, what pray tell is your current profession if I may ask out of curiosity?
On the Internet, discretion as to disclosure is advised. But below is my reply to your earlier, now disappeared post,
Parading cops , in uniform, as a role model is unlikely to work. Cops are not seen as role models. Certainly not by vast majority of high school students. Explorer members exempted.That bubble burst long time ago, when SRO decided it was within policy, and a good idea, to body slam a 15 year old girl for refusing to hand over her cell. It turned out to be neither. A discipline enforcer is not a role model. The reverse is more likely. He will be resented, then opposed, and finally resisted. What kind of role model does former Dep. Peterson present? Using armed uniformed SRO for purposes other then armed contingency asset is simply a bad idea.
A better approach would be to have one plainclothes officer with concealed carry weapon, always on schoolgrounds, and his unmarked, but clearly obvious, police cruiser parked in front of the school. A second SRO, a uniformed, armed patrol officer would be on campus sporadically. When and if plainclothes SRO feels one is needed. An occasional foot patrol of campus by uniformed SRO, to advertise presence. Otherwise the uniformed officer would patrol the jurisdiction as directed, and plainclothes SRO would be unobtrusive.
I don’t know why my earliest post disappeared. Jim, do you know?
Concerning your post about plainclothes SRO, that is an idea that might have some merit, though I don’t completely agree with your reason as to why, (how students feel toward uniformed officers). In my experience, a lot of them tend to feel that way toward authority in general and make exceptions to that belief when they actually get to know the authority figure as a human being. At any rate, I’ve enjoyed “chatting” with you and wish you well in whatever legal endeavor you’re in.
Then there is this.
Yet another WTF moment for this profession of yours.
What is infuriating on incidents such as this, is that ‘good’ officers at the scene don’t stop the bad ones from comiting crimes of violence against citizens. Even more so is that misconduct and brutality originates from senior officer . LEOs who should know better, do know better, yet commit appalling acts of police brutality, excessive force, citizen abuse that goes beyond the pale. Then they resign, at first hint of investigation. They want to leave the profession, but they want satisfaction of beating the crap out of some citizen, before they do.
There is a deep rot in law enforcement. We have very disturbing individuals with badges, and their colleagues do not stop them before they hurt someone or worse. The thin blue line has turned into a dark blue cloak. Worse still is that law enforcement proffesion is in deep denial of its own rot. On every incident, where there is criminal misconduct by LEO, the agency, and proffesion disavows that LEO and dismisses that officer as not representative of the force. But they are representative of law enforcement. They are in your departments, protected by you, covered by you. You serve together for years, decades. They undergo same training , qualifications and certifications. Yet when theIr crimes are exposed, you claim that they do not represent the proffesion. In fact, they do. You live citizens little choice but to resist. People run from cops, not becouse they commited a crime. They run becouse they do not want to be injured or killed by the police. Do you not see that police have turned into an oppression force staffed by criminals, liers, and cowards. The citizenry certainly sees it. The best of them , want nothing do with you, and refuse to join. The proffesion may be better served by a draft type system of recruitment. Like jury duty. Some qualified citizens may be required by the society to serve as law enforcement officers, for a period of time, with very select few pursuing LE as a career.
Another approach , is for agency ,that investigates police crime and misconduct, be a State level agency with sole task of investigating police misconduct, and reporting directly to State Attorney General and Governor. Currently there is an insufficient detterent to police misconduct.
Your article is spot on but I feel things will get much worse before anything serious is done. Our government will pass a bill into law, give a catchy name, but with most laws born out of outcry, it will be mostly meaningless. True change, the kind we need, takes something that shifts an entire society. And a shift of that magnitude is still a long ways away in my opinion. Between the degradation of law enforcement and the active eroding of our values, as I said, this will get much worse before it gets better.
I believe, sadly, that you are very much correct.
Well said Jim, and you even used “my” word (plethora). I wrote an article on this same subject. Tough times for us in law enforcement to be sure. BTW, wondering how many, in this millennial age, will take to time to read your whole article before chiming in.
It is interesting, I often get emails and you can tell that the entire article was not read. Where is your article?
Another great article Jim! Some of this deputies harshest critics are those wearing the badge. Nothing is as it seems. I’ll wait until the full investigation is complete to express my opinion. I wish others would as well!
I don’t expect an honest report out of that Sheriff. If he is voted out and another takes his place, the investigation may come out faster and be more accurate.
Releasing his name so soon did NOTHING but endanger that SRO deputy (former) and his family. Well, it did provide a nice scapegoat for the Sheriff. There still isn’t enough known today to render an opinion. Each incident is a learning experience, or should be. The Sheriff was 100% in the wrong for releasing that deputy’s name before the bodies were cold. It is now more than two weeks later and I still can’t pass judgement. We don’t have radio traffic, video, 911 calls, training procedures, etc. There is not enough publicly released information to make that call. I don’t expect the information to flow very quickly when the Sheriff commends himself of the excellent leadership he has provided.
Former deputy f’ed epic. He was at scene of crime at the time of commitment of that crime, and failed to respond as trained. Would he have prevented murders and injuries, had he done what he was dutybound to do? Can’t speculate. Would his proper action , had he taken it, minimize the carnage? Only speculation, but it is likely YES, as suspect was campus for a number of minutes after initiation of the incident. Instead, he remained nice and safe, called it in, and stayed out of the fight.
By now, the Sheriff’s Department could put together a video showing where the shooter and victims were located and where the officer was. Some high schools are as large as a small university. The reporters are trying to squeeze information out of the Sheriff and he is stalling. I won’t condemn the SRO until the facts are out. They just put out a Captain ordered a perimeter set up. It is hard to condemn that Captain without knowing the time frame.
An issue often overlooked is time, specifically the time on video systems and dispatch systems. All must be synced to the official national time from NIST, which can be found here: https://www.time.gov/
Most cell phones are on NIST time. Some CAD programs have a hand entered time. It really becomes an issue when a dispatcher gives an incorrect time out over the radio. The media can use that time against kid’s tweets or other social media, which is on NIST time, and suddenly your response time goes up by a minute.
Excellent article! Thank you. Good response to “DK” too. As you say, if his points concerning this situation are accurate, he still paints the rest with way too broad a brush. First, I recommend you research the full speech given by Florida Governor Rick Scott wherein he outlines his plan for school safety. Very pragmatic, very comprehensive and using the power of his office to enact this plan this year – some points as early as July! It is the best overall response I’ve seen from any quarter and is presented very well.
Secondly, as pointed out in another article, the police presence is needed at schools – not just for preventive safety, but for everyday interaction with our kids to show them role models (especially the boys), too many of whom have no good role models (or no role models at all); to handle the various forms of juvenile tomfoolery adolescents (again, especially the boys), have been known for throughout history. There is very little civility left in our society today – from the halls of government right down to our schools and homes. Parents don’t teach the importance of being civil to other people and polite and the benefits of service above self to a society and a culture. You can’t teach what you don’t know.
A friend who is a middle school teacher tells how wildly a majority of her students act, not just toward authority but toward each other. She sets and enforces behavior standards in her class so she doesn’t have near the trouble some of her co-workers do – and usually without back-up from school administration. The few parents who care say they “can’t do anything with him.” I believe that is because they never DID anything with him – spend time, educate, model; because they were and are too interested in being friends instead of parents or because they are too caught up in their own lives to care (the kids just “get in the way”), or they don’t (and maybe never did), want to be parents and don’t know how because they weren’t taught. Refer back to “you can’t teach what you don’t know.”
It’s way to big and complex a problem for any one size fits all approach from any quarter to be successful, another reason I liked Governor Scott’s plan. We’ve always had guns and always had bullys and bullied kids, meanness and fights, so none of those are the reasons we’ve seen such a turn in the path of our culture as we’re seeing now – not just mass shootings in schools and elsewhere, but in virtually every corner of our society. Too many people involved for it to ever be 100%, but enough of our society will have to take a stand, draw a line in the sand and say, enough – our society will not cross this line! The line should’ve been drawn miles and decades behind where we are, but even if we draw it where our toes are now, there is hope at least it won’t get worse. If we don’t, it will get worse and if it hasn’t already, we will go the way of every great civilization that has ever existed on earth – and for many of the very same reasons. Thank you for being one of the candles in the wind for law enforcement, our communities and our culture.
Lt. Regarding violent entertainment. Violence in movies and TV , IMHO, is not a significant contribution to a violent phsyche in adolescents . But violent video games, especially military oriented, 1st person shooters are a whole different story. The graphics are amazing, sounds of battlefield, action of specific weapons are recreated faithfully. Very impressive . Too impressive. We have 12 and 14 year olds who are familiar with operational characteristics, limitations , and capabilities of individual small arms. Down to the muzzle energy, and terminal ballistics of 6.5, 6.8 SPC, 5.56 NATO, 7.62 NATO, and 40 mm grenades. Those same 12 and 14 year-olds learn how to write warning and operational orders, for raid patrols, and determine equipment loads down to type and amount of strike plates, for virtuall body armor. All on XBOX and PS4. Game play has them perform , function check, SPORTS, and gas adjustmend on a weapon for specific ammunition. Another has player do a field strip of a SAW. A 12 year old kid should not know how to field strip and reassemble a light machine gun. Or criteria for ammunition type selection. These games have players plan infiltration , movement to objective, actions at objective, initiation, exfiltration. A virtual BCT and infantry AIT at squad level. All rolled into Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare, Warfighter DVD disk. With VR sets game play is even more immersive. Except that every round fired does not come with lawyer attached, and no liability for ROE violation. The trigger squeeze is free .
I do not know to what degree Cruz was knowledgeable in military tactics. But it is apparent that he was able to plan and execute , to what amounts to , a raid patrol. A one man raid. He was familiar with school campus. Likely he interacted with SRO, when he was a student, prior to expulsion. So he planned and executed an unopposed, unchallenged entry into objective area. Then he executed his actions at the objectives, starting with raid initiation of pulled fire alarm. Then taking advantage of expected initial confusion , he performed actions at the objective. That being casualty infliction. He then transitioned into departure from objective, by ditching his weapon. He then exfiltrated by mixing with crowd, taking advantage of panic and confusion. This 19 year old murdering punk is a mini Oberst Otto Skorzeny. Whoever bullied him, and caused him pain seriously underestimated this kid’s talent for art of violence, and his ice cold heart. As sick and maladjusted this guy is, he will spend remainder of his life in prison, and be more at peace with himself. He got his revenge, that was his mission objective. He succeeded in hurting , in worst possible way, those who bullied him,made of him, and when he fought back , expelled him from school. They hurt him, he hurt them back 100X, and now he can spent his life behind bars, in relative peace. Cold, calculating , twisted, evil. Waste of talent. Even if that talent is murderous violence.
How did he approach and enter campus holding AR-15 carbine, without being noticed? I don’t know. But upper receiver can be detached from lower, with a bit of black tape holding bolt carrier, in upper, and recoil spring in lower. Both receivers , when detached, fit nicely into a backpack, or photographer’s bag, with magazines on bottom. Add a small lightweight disassembled tripod and a camera, and the whole rig looks like photo equipment to a casual eye. A guy walking down the street with a photography bag is not likely to gather same attention, from laymen, then a man with a loaded AR-15.