SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:
In Florida, the Broward County sheriff is facing criticism after revelations that a sheriff's deputy who was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, waited outside while the shooting was taking place and never went it. Republican lawmakers are calling on the state's governor to suspend Sheriff Scott Israel. Governor Rick Scott says the state will investigate the local police response to the shooting in which 17 people died. Meanwhile, students returned to the high school in Parkland today for the first time since the massacre. Junior Macie Chapman was there with her mother, Heather.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MACIE CHAPMAN: I'm trying to not cry. Mostly because, like, I'm just excited to see my teachers and my friends that'll be here because I haven't seen them in a long time. And a lot of them don't even have their phones because they all are left here.
HEATHER: No way to communicate.
CHAPMAN: Yeah, you can't really talk to them.
MCCAMMON: NPR's Greg Allen is at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and joins us now. Hi, Greg.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Hi, Sarah.
MCCAMMON: So what's going on at the high school today?
ALLEN: Well, this is an orientation day. It's really a chance for students to come back for the first time and walk through the door and mostly to pick up the possessions they left behind that day because, you know, as you recall, that - when that happened, everybody ran out the door, left their backpacks, their phones behind. But it's also just for their chance to see their friends and see their teachers. And we've seen some tears, some people going in holding hands. But it's been tough for them. Here's Mike Glass, who's - came today with his son. His son was in the freshman building, and he left his backpack behind, Mike said.
MIKE GLASS: It's time for them to get their personal effects. There's no agenda. They're free to roam the school. Supposedly, there's all kinds of banners inside the school from all over the place that the kids will be able to see and to read what others have - other schools and other areas of the country have sent the school. So it's just more of a time to get back together.
MCCAMMON: So we've heard so much about these students - how resilient they've been, how vocal they've been about wanting gun control, but it must be a difficult day to go back into that building. What's the mood like?
ALLEN: It really is. What you're seeing is a lot of hugging going on. People are seeing their friends and walking in with their family members. It's a lot of mutual support going on. Outside the school, there's a large memorial that's, of course, sprung up. There are 17 crosses, which big mounds of flowers are in front. And so a lot of the students are going by there, have been here before to visit the memorial.
But you know, we had some students like Macie Chapman, who we heard at the top, she told me she thought it was too soon to go back. She wasn't ready. Her mother convinced her to go back. Talked to others who said, yeah, they're ready to go back. They're worried about falling behind. Some people talked about SATs in a few weeks, and they want to be ready for that. So learning is going to get back happening again here, but it's going to be difficult really for some weeks at least.
MCCAMMON: And meanwhile, there are questions about the police response the day of the shooting and in the weeks and months beforehand when they received those warnings about the alleged shooter. Briefly, Greg, what's the latest word on that?
ALLEN: Well, of course, we heard from Sheriff Scott Israel from Broward County that the sheriff's deputy who was here that day, the school resource officer, resigned when it was learned that he stood outside for four minutes while the shooting was going on and never went inside. That's going to be a source of an internal investigation by the Broward County Sheriff's Office.
Then, meanwhile, you have the House speaker in Tallahassee and many other Republican lawmakers calling on the governor to suspend Scott Israel, the sheriff here. The governor has not gone that far yet, but says he is going to conduct this investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Then we have this backdrop revelation of 23 contacts that the sheriff's department had with Nikolas Cruz and his family in the years before the shooting. So there'll be a lot of soul-searching in the weeks ahead and months ahead, looking about how the warning signs were missed here.
MCCAMMON: That's NPR's Greg Allen in Parkland, Fla. Thank you, Greg.
ALLEN: You're welcome.
[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In this report, we say that 17 crosses were placed at a memorial for those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In fact, the memorials also included Stars of David in memory of the Jewish victims.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.