A student who was gravely wounded after being shot five times while shielding classmates during the Florida high school shooting in February criticized the county sheriff and school superintendent Friday saying they failed the victims by not arresting the shooter before the massacre.
Anthony Borges, 15, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., was hailed a hero after he used his body to protect the lives of 20 others students after accused gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire at the school on Feb. 14, 2018, killing 17 people.
He was released from the hospital Wednesday after suffering wounds to the lungs, abdomen and legs.
Borges’ attorney read a statement from the teen during a news conference criticizing Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and Superintendent Robert Runcie for the massacre. Borges, too weak to talk, sat silently in a wheelchair with his right leg propped up. His statement specifically attacked the Promise program, a school district and sheriff office initiative that allows students who commit minor crimes on campus to avoid arrest if they complete rehabilitation. Runcie has said Cruz, a former Stoneman Douglas student, was never in the program, but Borges and his attorney, Alex Arreaza, said school and sheriff’s officials knew Cruz was dangerous.
Deputies received at least a dozen calls about Cruz, 19, over the years and he spent two years in a school for children with emotional and disciplinary problems before being allowed to transfer to Stoneman Douglas. Last year, records show he was forced to leave after incidents – other students said he abused an ex-girlfriend and fought her new boyfriend. Weeks before the shooting, both the FBI and the sheriff’s office received calls saying Cruz could become a school shooter but neither took action.
Runcie and Israel “failed us students, teachers and parents alike on so many levels,” Arreaza read for Borges, who sat next to his father, Roger. “I want all of us to move forward to end the environment that allowed people like Nikolas Cruz to fall through the cracks. You knew he was a problem years ago and you did nothing. He should have never been in school with us.”
Arreaza said that although Borges’ father, a maintenance worker, appreciates that people consider his son a hero for protecting classmates, he believes such talk detracts from the serious message that action must be taken to stop school shootings.
“He doesn’t want there to be any more bubblegum hero stuff,” Arreaza said.
Many of the school shooting’s survivors have spoken out against gun violence and called on lawmakers for stricter gun control in order to prevent future tragedies.
Borges visited his high school for the first time since the massacre but said he is scared to return for classes, fearing more violence.
Borges, who came to Florida from Venezuela three years ago, was a Boy Scout and well-known for his soccer skills, playing as a forward and training with FC Barcelona’s youth academy near Fort Lauderdale.
Borges’ family was the first to announce their intent to sue Broward County officials for money to cover costs of his recovery. More than $800,000 has already been raised for the teenager on a GoFundMe page.
The FBI and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office have come under intense scrutiny following the shooting. The FBI admitted days after the shooting that they received a call on Jan. 5 from a person close to Cruz expressing concerns about his erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts. The former school resource deputy, Scot Peterson, did not enter the school during the shooting.
The former deputy denied wrongdoing and retired from the office before an investigation was launched. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office released footage of the shooting that showed Peterson spending most of the video standing outside the school with his gun drawn.
Fox News’ Lucia Suarez, Katherine Lam and the Associated Press contributed to this report.