Tampa Bay area school districts addressing security after Parkland shooter's brother is arrested

Posted at 7:11 PM, Mar 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-21 03:04:10-04

TAMPA — School security is what many parents are thinking of, especially after the brother of the man accused of killing 17 people at a South Florida high school in February, was arrested for trespassing on the campus 3 times. 

According to a Broward Sheriff's Office arrest report, Zachary Cruz, 18, trespassed on school grounds after being warned to keep away from the school.

"Cruz surpassed all locked doors and gates and proceeded to ride his skateboard through school grounds," the arrest report states. The Assistant State Attorney Sarahnell Murphy said in court Zachary Cruz has the same red flags his brother had.

Local school districts are now calling on parents, students, faculty and staff to change their mindset when it comes to security on their own campuses.

"We need to harden up our entry security for schools," said Matt Depietro, with Cobra Self Defense. He trains people in active shooter situations and says Zachary Cruz shouldn't have gotten in.

"After the shootings, what is the standard that we need to hold across all schools that protects our students, staff, and faculty and everyone on campus?"

Maddi Ouimette, a Senior at Clearwater High school says students need to take action when they see something out of place, and not wait for staff to notice it first.

"It’s important students are closing gates and taking security measures into their hands because unfortunately we can’t have someone policing every entrance into and out of the school, so students taking on that role is going to be important," she said.

Pinellas County sent this statement Tuesday:

"Pinellas County Schools principals and staff members encourage students who see a concern on campus to say something about it to school staff immediately. School leaders remind students of ways in which they can help keep their school community safe."

Pictures sent into ABC Action News, show wide open windows at Randall Middle School in Hillsborough County. We took the photos to a Hillsborough County Spokesperson. Tanya Arja said it may have been an air conditioning issue, but it's a good reminder to staff to think of security first.

"I called out to the school to check with them and they reiterate to staff and students to make sure the doors are closed, gates are locked behind them, making sure they pull things closed, that windows are closed," she said.

Arja says parents that see these types of concerns should report them to administration too. And, she says even if you want to be courteous, do not hold the door for others - close them behind you and instruct people to check in at the front office. She says the office staff needs to know who's coming and going.

"We have security procedures and protocols at our schools but those security systems are only as good as the people that are there on campus," said Arja. "We have to rely on our teachers and our students and our administration and our parents as well that come on campus to make sure that they are following all the procedures."