Ballistics experts will fire up to 139 shots at Florida' Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Friday during a reenactment of the 2018 Parkland massacre as part of a lawsuit that accuses a sheriff’s deputy of failing in his duty to protect the victims, the Associated Press reports. As the reenactment takes place, technicians outside a three-story classroom building will record the sound of the gunfire, seeking to capture what the deputy assigned to the school, Scot Peterson, heard during the six-minute attack. The shooting left 17 dead, 17 wounded, and hundreds traumatized in the South Florida community. Peterson, who worked for the Broward Sheriff’s Office, also targeted in the lawsuit, says he didn’t hear all the shots and couldn’t pinpoint where they were coming from because of echoes. He has said he would have charged into the building if he knew that’s where the shooter was. Families of the victims bringing the lawsuit contend Peterson knew gunman Nikolas Cruz’s location but retreated out of cowardice and in violation of his duty to protect their loved ones.
Peterson, 60, was acquitted in June of felony child neglect and other criminal charges for failing to act, the first U.S. trial in history of a law enforcement officer for conduct during a-campus shooting. In the civil case, Judge Carol-Lisa Phillips allowed the reenactment but made clear she was not ruling on whether the recording will be played at trial. The experts will fire live ammunition from the same spots as Cruz, with an identical AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle. The bullets will be caught by a safety device. Robert Maher, a Montana State University professor who has studied the accuracy of gunfire recordings, said gunshots are much sharper in person. “Speakers are not able to reproduce this high-intensity, short-duration pop sound,” Maher said. Still, he said, there are techniques that might pick up the direction the shots were coming from and the reenactment should demonstrate how loud they were where Peterson was standing. That’s a significant question as the classroom building’s doors and window were mostly shut during the shooting. “Are they really loud like you would expect a gunshot to be or, because the building is sealed up, not loud?” Maher said. “That’s probably what they are going to be able to get out of the reconstruction.”