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Deep pothole appears to be swallowing Michigan police officer

Heavy rainfall in Michigan has led to flooding and in some cases, dangerous road conditions.

>> Read more trending news 

In Grand Blanc Township, a road was temporarily closed Friday due to a culvert washout. To demonstrate just how bad the road conditions were, an officer from the Grand Blanc Township Police Department stood in a deep pothole. The photo from the scene was posted on the police department's Facebook page. The police department noted that Officer Clark is 6 feet, 5 inches, to illustrate the depth of the pothole.

The city made temporary repairs Friday and the road was opened back up, according to the police department’s Facebook post.

Perilous times for historically black colleges

Two years ago, Amelia Smith received the one thing she thought she always wanted – a blue envelope from Spelman College. She had been accepted to what many consider the finest black college in America.

>> Read more trending news

Her grandmother went to Spelman. So did her mother. And her aunt. And her sister, who’s a senior there now. So Smith wasn’t surprised when she was accepted, too. 

She is just wrapping up her sophomore year. But not at Spelman. She’s studying biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech. 

“I am kind of the black sheep in the family,” Smith said. “When I got accepted into Tech, I felt very proud of myself. My grandmother (a dean at Fort Valley State University) was very proud of me. She said if she had had the opportunity to go to Tech when she was choosing a college, she would have gone. But she never got that chance.”

Amelia Smith’s good fortune is Spelman College’s loss. She is a talented and highly coveted black student who had her pick of any college she could get into and afford. But that hard-won freedom comes at a price for historically black colleges and universities. Predominantly white schools are picking off some of black colleges’ best prospects. Fifty years ago, 90 percent of all black college students went to black colleges. Today, 90 percent of black students are at mostly white schools.

Spelman is one of the richest and most highly regarded of the 101 accredited HBCUs. As are Howard University in Washington and Morehouse College in Atlanta. They are not in danger because of choices like the one Smith made. But many HBCUs are.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution analyzed key data measures that relate to the health and stability of 101 schools — among them, enrollment, graduation rates, student retention and core revenue. The newspaper found the usual stars in the HBCU firmament — but also some troubled institutions that have struggled for years.

Tiny Paine College in Augusta has lost 46 percent of its enrollment since 2010, and two-thirds of Paine’s freshman class in 2015 didn’t come back for sophomore year. Meanwhile, the oldest HBCU in America, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, lost 55 percent of its enrollment during that period. Its six-year graduation rate in 2015? Seventeen percent. At South Carolina State University, enrollment declined 30 percent and core revenue 27 percent.

Colleges can’t sustain those kinds of numbers for long — evident in the fact that at least six HBCUs have closed since 1988 and at least two (including one in Atlanta) are now colleges in name only.

Some college finance experts predict that dozens of HBCUs will disappear in the next 20 years.

“I use a phrase that got me in trouble. After 7½ years in this space and seeing a decline overall, my phrase is, ‘I am hopeful, but not optimistic,’” said Johnny Taylor, former president of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which supports public HBCUs.

Taylor believes as many as one-quarter of HBCUs will not survive the next two decades.

It is a brisk Wednesday morning on the Morehouse campus, and Darian Nwankwo has a problem.

He catches up with his philosophy professor, Illya Davis, as Davis hurries to the second of three classes he’ll teach that day.

In a nutshell: Nwankwo wants to go to his fraternity convention in Macon on that Friday. But he has also missed his allotted number of Davis’ classes; plus, he has a paper due that he must personally hand in. Davis keeps pushing back on what Nwankwo needs to do. He doesn’t give his student permission to skip class. Nor does he deny it.

“I am going to continue to ask you questions until you figure out the answer yourself,” Davis said.

Nwankwo stops for a moment and looks at the sky. He seems half-frustrated and half-reflective. He says he will figure it out. They give each other a fist pound and go their separate ways. 

“I tell my students that their success or failure is a reflection on me, and what happens in these conversations, on this campus, will not happen again when you leave here,” Davis said later. “And I am trying to get them to understand … that kind of question should never have to come up again, because they should already know the answer.”

Such is life at Morehouse. The Atlanta college is so highly regarded in large part because it holds the distinction of being the only all-male HBCU, whose graduates include Martin Luther King Jr. and Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first black mayor. But there is also the unique personal relationships that professors like Davis have with their students. Those relationships recall Benjamin Mays’ mentorship of a young King, whom Mays recruited to Morehouse when King was only 14.

From Mays to King to Oprah to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, HBCUs have educated countless black doctors, lawyers, theologians, entrepreneurs, journalists, teachers, entertainers and politicians.

Nine of the 101 accredited HBCUs are in Georgia, and five of them are in the same neighborhood in Atlanta, giving the city the densest concentration of black colleges in America.

At least six northern HBCUs were founded before the Civil War. Morehouse, founded in 1867, was one of nine black colleges that celebrated their 150th birthday in 2017.

Enrollment rose to its zenith, about 325,000, in 2010, the year after Barack Obama became president.

But today, the tide that brought so many African-Americans into America’s middle class seems to be shifting. In the five years following that 2010 spike, enrollment declined by 10 percent — compared to the 4 percent drop for all colleges during that period, federal data shows.

Some schools are reporting enrollment gains this year. Between 2010 and 2015, however, 20 black colleges saw enrollment plummet by more than 25 percent; only 22 black colleges saw increases during that time.

Smith, the Georgia Tech student, said both academics and finances played a role in her not following her family to Spelman. 

Spelman, one of only two all-female HBCUs in America and, according to many agencies who track it, the top-ranked black college in the country simply didn’t have what Smith wanted to major in. She balked at the idea of doing a dual degree in biomedical engineering at Spelman and Tech, because it would have taken her at least five years to graduate. 

“Georgia Tech is the number one public school in Georgia, it is a top 10 engineering school, and it is the best biomedical engineering program in the country,” Smith said. “Undeniably, it is a good school for what I want to do.” 

Smith also received several lucrative scholarships from Georgia Tech and is essentially attending the school for free, which was not on the table at Spelman. 

“Money was not an issue, but you never want to place that burden on your family,” Smith said.

In 2015, author and University of Missouri journalism professor Ron Stodghill wrote “Where Everybody Looks Like Me: At the Crossroads of America’s Black Colleges and Culture.” He theorized in the book that by “the year 2035 the number of HBCUs will be down to 35 and only 15 of those will be thriving.”

Some scoff at such dire predictions, but it is not hard to find trouble spots.

In Georgia, for example, Fort Valley State and Savannah State graduate fewer than 30 percent of their freshmen within six years. That is the case at more than half of HBCUs; the six-year graduation rate for all U.S. colleges is 59 percent.

A lot of students arrive at black colleges unprepared academically or financially. Even more than 150 years after HBCUs started, many freshmen are still first-generation college students, and more than 70 percent of students receive some kind of federal financial aid.

“A lot of times students come in on a bubble academically, and they come in on a bubble financially,” Stodghill said. “Then the perfect storm hits them sophomore year and they gotta leave with debt and can’t get their transcript to go to a community college, because they can’t pay the bill.”

Poor financial decisions put some HBCUs on the list. One wrong move Paine College made, its new president said, was restarting a football program in 2012 that lasted one full season. Paine is in a legal battle to keep its accreditation because of such mistakes.

Most HBCUs have never had large budgets, and the problem has become worse for many. In recent years:

  • States have cut funding to three out of four public HBCUs since the recession. Louisiana’s funding to Grambling State University, for example, was cut in half in a recent eight-year stretch.

  • The Obama administration tightened credit requirements on federal student loans in 2012. Suddenly, applicants for so-called PLUS loans were turned down by the thousands, taking a deep slice of enrollment out of dozens of HBCUs. After a loud outcry from students, parents, colleges and lawmakers, the changes were rescinded in 2015.

  • HBCUs have long struggled to attract money from major foundations or donors. Bill and Camille Cosby’s $25 million gift to Spelman in 1988 is believed to be the largest donation to an HBCU. “That was 30 years ago,” Dillard University president Walter Kimbrough said. “That’s ridiculous.”

HBCUs have also looked inward at another longstanding problem: the lack of alumni support. Barely one in 10 graduates gave money back to their college, U.S. News & World Report reported. At Princeton, the most recent alumni giving rate was more than 60 percent, U.S. News said. At Morehouse, about 20 percent of alumni donate to the school.

Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C., appears to be the leader. In 2016, more than 52 percent of its graduates gave donations totaling more than $1 million to the school. The year before, only 50 percent gave, but they gave $1.4 million.

The country’s first three black colleges — Cheyney, Lincoln and Wilberforce — were founded in Pennsylvania and Ohio to give free blacks and former slaves the fundamental right that had been considered too dangerous for them to have: an education.

“When you think about the students we serve, this is the first time that they are the center and focus of the academic experience, and that is power,” said William Fisher, who runs the U.S. Education Department’s HBCU Capital Financing Program.

Eric McGlothen, a freshman at Dillard University in New Orleans and a 2017 graduate of Atlanta’s Grady High School, feels that power. McGlothen is one of three Dillard freshmen from Atlanta. He said they quickly bonded and also rallied around the school’s president, Walter Kimbrough, an Atlanta native and a graduate of Mays High School.

“My dad went to Morehouse and my mom went to Spelman. But I wanted my independence,” said McGlothen. “This is the perfect place for me, because it really is like a family out here. It is small, but there is so much culture here.”

Damon Bellmon is on his own for the first time as a junior at tiny Wiley College, about 150 miles east of Dallas. He dropped out of Georgia State University in 2011 to pursue dancing and acting, appearing on two seasons of “So You Think You Can Dance,” and in the motion picture “Birth of a Nation.”

“My mom jokes about the HBCU experience and what that means as a whole and what that comes down to learning to get things done yourself,” Bellmon said. “If you want something done, you have to do it yourself. It teaches you persistence and how to deal with frustration. It prepares you for the real world. So when you get out there, you know how to grind. That is what the HBCU experience boils down to.”

If HBCUs were founded because black students had no other place to go, they began to suffer when white schools started admitting black students.

“HBCUs were caught a little off-guard by majority institutions when they integrated, swooped down and took the cream of the crop and then walked away,” said Claflin President Henry Tisdale. “Somehow, we had conceded that we couldn’t compete. We said, ‘Let them get the best and we will take what is remaining.’”

The challenges facing HBCUs are embodied in a school in downtown Atlanta. Georgia State University, which is not an HBCU, graduated more black students in 2017 than any institution in the nation.

Many of those black Georgia State students are first-generation college students with low family incomes. Paul L. Jones, president of the HBCU Fort Valley State in Middle Georgia, says they remind him of himself.

Jones, in year two at Fort Valley State, was born in South Central Los Angeles and didn’t attend an HBCU. Some Fort Valley folks weren’t keen on hiring him, but he’s invested in the task and can become emotional talking about his students.

“I cannot fail them,” he said in a recent interview on campus.

Jones and his team are like many HBCU administrators, trying to figure out what will work to help the college succeed. Part of their plan includes getting students involved in community service projects and leveraging successful academic programs — such as Fort Valley’s agricultural research curriculum — with other colleges and organizations.

Clark Atlanta University entered into an agreement with Georgia Piedmont Technical College last year: GPTC offers remedial courses for students with the goal of sending those students on to Clark. Some HBCUs, such as Tennessee State, are recruiting more international students. Morehouse’s new president says he wants to create more courses that fulfill part of the original mission of HBCUs: improving the lives of all African-Americans.

Racial disputes on some campuses, as well as Donald Trump’s presidency, have renewed interest in HBCUs this year.

“I knew that I wanted an HBCU experience where black people are constantly loving on you,” said Tahir Murray, 18, a Howard University freshman who grew up in Fayette County. “There are people here from from all over the United States and world, with different religions and backgrounds. And when we talk about race, we can have good, in-depth conversations. It is not just surface-level outrage.”

Experts say HBCUs must invest more money in technology to improve the financial aid submission process, a problem that frustrates countless students. Noting that half of all black college students are taking online courses at community colleges, these experts also say HBCUs need to step up with digital course offerings of their own.

“We have to ask ourselves what is the future for us?” said Jones, the president at Fort Valley. “What is it we have to do to ensure we are around for the next 100 years? We can be in the driver’s seat or the passenger’s seat. I want to be in the driver’s seat to ensure success.”

Amelia Smith’s blue Spelman envelope is somewhere in her parents’ home in Macon. She still marvels at how close she came to being a Spelmanite.

After she got accepted, she joined all of the required social media groups to meet her potential classmates and had already met the woman who was to be her roommate.

“Learning in an environment where everyone looks like you is special. It is not bad at Georgia Tech, but different,” Smith said. “My sister and best friend go to Spelman and I fight for HBCUs like I go to one. And I didn’t shun Spelman. I am still going to get an honorary degree from there one day and I plan on getting a building named for me.”

Delta ending discount for NRA members 

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced Saturday it is ending a discount for National Rifle Association members.

>> Read more trending news

The move comes as some other businesses broke ties with the NRA amid debate over gun control in the wake of the Parkland school shooting in Florida earlier this month.

“We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from its website,” Delta said in a written statement.

>> 3 car rental companies cancel discounts for NRA members 

Following is a list of some of the companies that have cut ties or distanced themselves from the NRA:

  • United Airlines -- United tweeted Saturday, "United is notifying the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting and we are asking that the NRA remove our information from their website." 

  • Delta Air Lines -- Delta issued the following statement Saturday: "Delta is reaching out to the National Rifle Association to let it know we will be ending its contract for discounted rates through our group travel program. We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from its website." 

  • First National Bank of Omaha -- The bank announced that it would not renew a co-branded Visa credit-card with the NRA.

  • The Hertz Corp. -- The rental car company ended its discount program for NRA members.

  • MetLife Inc. -- The insurer terminated discounts that had been offered to NRA members on the NRA website

  • Enterprise Holdings Inc. -- The car rental company that also owns Alamo and National cut off discounts for NRA members.

  • Symantec Corp. -- The software company that makes Norton Antivirus technology ended its discount program with the NRA.

  • Chubb Ltd. -- The insurer announced it was ending participation in the NRA's gun-owner insurance program, though it provided notice three months ago.

  • Best Western -- The hotel chain told multiple social media users that it was no longer affiliated with the NRA, though it did not say when that decision was made.

  • Wyndham Hotels -- The hotel chain told social media users it is no longer affiliated with the NRA without specifying when that decision was made.

Red Cross says 21 staffers paid for sexual service in past 3 years

A member of the International Committee of the Red Cross said that in the past three years, 21 staff members have resigned or were fired for “paying for sexual services,” CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Two other staff members suspected of sexual misconduct also did not have their contracts renewed, according to Yves Daccord, director general of the ICRC.

"This behavior is a betrayal of the people and the communities we are there to serve. It is against human dignity and we should have been more vigilant in preventing this," Daccord said.

Daccord said staffers are required to adhere to the ICRC’s code of conduct, which bans paying for sexual services. The organization has more than 1,700 staff members worldwide, CNN reported.

What covering the 2017 NRA convention was like

Last year’s National Rifle Association convention brought 80,000 people to downtown Atlanta, and on opening day I interviewed some of the nicest people I’d ever met.

>> Read more trending news

Given the heated protests that preceded the April 2017 event at the Georgia World Congress Center and the “fake news media” narrative some have embraced, I thought covering it might be awkward. Nope. Everyone I approached wasn’t just friendly. It’s like they were personally glad I was there.

A former Navy SEAL from Ohio was there with his 11-year-old twin grandsons. Not long after they arrived, the two young fellas were firing pellets from air rifles, their form and marksmanship impressive.

A lady from New Mexico was happy to run into friends she had met at past events and eager to check out the acres of merchandise. Living out west, she noted, means living with rattlesnakes.

“I shot my first rattlesnake five years ago, and I’ve been shooting them ever since,” she said, still giddy at dispatching that first venomous foe. 

I ran into former U.S. Army Ranger Kris “Tonto” Paronto, a survivor of the 2012 Benghazi attack, and he remembered me from our interview during the press tour for “13 Hours,” the movie that depicted the event. Swarmed with fans the ebullient Tonto  took a minute to talk with me again.

The family reunion vibe changed on Day 3, when NRA leaders and President Donald Trump arrived.

NRA chief Wayne LaPierre declared “academic and media elites” to be the biggest threats to the country. The crowd roared. The cavernous auditorium was darkened but the press pen situated in the center of the huge meeting hall was illuminated by our laptop screens. Reporters were easy to spot, in other words. 

“Give the media the big, fat black eye it deserves!” LaPierre urged. More cheering. “When did the media stop being journalists and start becoming PR flacks for the destruction of our country?”

What? I live here. Why would I destroy my home?

My dad and grandfathers all served in the military. My father-in-law did too. My great-uncle was a highly decorated veteran of three wars. My husband shoots sporting clays. There are more than a dozen firearms (all long guns that must be loaded prior to each shot, and a number of antique pieces that haven’t been fired in decades) in my house.

No one in the angry crowd knew that. All they knew was that, according to their leader, I was the enemy.

There was more shouting outside, as protesters set up shop near Centennial Olympic Park before marching through downtown.

“We are protesting this murder fantasy convention with mockery and anger and will continue our direct actions until the country is free from the grip of the violence-for-profit industry,” the group Betsy Riot said in a media release.

I caught up with the roving movement and recognized a neighbor in the crowd. We talked about our hydrangeas for a minute; then she resumed the march and I headed back inside the convention hall. The keynote speeches over, conventioneers seemed happy and friendly again. I wouldn’t call them a murder-fantasy crowd any more than I’d agree that reporters want to destroy the country.

This year’s NRA convention is scheduled to be held in Dallas, although the city’s mayor pro tem wants them to go elsewhere.

I hope that if the convention does go on as planned, people from opposing camps will find a way to talk to each other, instead of shouting.

“I believe there should be background checks,” a welder from Atlanta told me. “Not everyone should have a gun; clearly not people with mental illness.”

“I don’t think anyone that’s a member of the NRA wants to see guns end up in the hands of someone who is a danger or threat to society,” said a single mom from Orlando. After she lost two friends in the Pulse nightclub shooting spree in 2016, she wanted her son to learn gun safety. 

Added a Coast Guard member from Florida, “Let’s have an educated conversation about it, not a violent one.”

Deputy who failed to engage Parkland shooter had solid work history

For years, Scot Peterson loved working as a school resource deputy with the Broward Sheriff’s Office in South Florida.

>> Read more trending news

He was dependable. He intervened in conflicts as a mediator. He was awarded school resource deputy of the year about four years ago and was recognized at a Parkland City Commission meeting.

He volunteered to help with a lockdown drill at a Catholic school four years ago.

According to documents released to The Palm Beach Post on Friday, his superiors said he was good at his job, even exceeding what he was asked to do.

Until, apparently, he didn’t.

The suburban Boynton Beach resident is said to have stood outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day for minutes while Nikolas Cruz sprayed bullets at the students Peterson was supposed to protect.

President Donald Trump on Friday called the 54-year-old a “coward.” Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said his deputy should have gone in. Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie said he wished Peterson had the same courage that the school’s teachers displayed.

>> Parkland school shooting timeline: Seven minutes, three floors and 17 dead

But Douglas English teacher Felicia Burgin, who worked in the freshman building where the shootings took place, has what she concedes isn’t “the most popular opinion.”

“My take is this is misdirected anger,” Burgin told The Palm Beach Post on Friday. “I think that nobody knows unless you’re actually in this situation. … And it just seems to me his choices were to run in there, blindly, and be killed by this AR-15 with his hand gun as a defense, or be called a coward. … From my perspective, there is nothing he could have done to prevent what happened. … My anger is with Nikolas Cruz.”

The decision to stand down marked the end of Peterson’s otherwise nearly stellar three decades with the Sheriff’s Office. Israel publicly disclosed Peterson’s lack of action Thursday and said the deputy was suspended without pay. Peterson then chose to retire instead.

Israel said his department is investigating Peterson’s inaction in the massacre, in which 14 students and three adults died and many were hurt. Authorities said Cruz, 19, has confessed to being the shooter.

Israel said two other deputies, Edward Eason and Guntis Treijs, also are under investigation and have been put on “restrictive duty.” Records indicated Eason lives in Lake Worth and Treijs in Coral Springs. 

>> Shooting survivors perform emotional song at CNN town hall

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office had 23 interactions with Cruz or his family from November 2008 to November 2017, records showed. And some of them happened while Peterson was the Douglas High resource officer.

On Feb. 5, 2016, a deputy relayed information to the resource officer that a neighbor’s son claimed Cruz said on Instagram he planned to shoot up the school. A sheriff’s deputy said Thursday they have no record of what happened to that information which was given to the resource officer.

And on Sept. 28, 2016, a peer counselor reported to the school resource officer that Cruz possibly ingested gasoline in an attempt to commit suicide and was cutting himself. The mental health counselor said Cruz didn’t meet the criteria for a Baker Act, according to records. The Baker Act allows the state to have someone in custody for up to three days.

Calls made to Peterson and other relatives weren’t returned. A call to the home of his first wife and four children was answered by a man who hung up.

No one answered the door Thursday or Friday at his house. Around the time that Israel made the announcement Thursday, reporters flooded Peterson’s neighborhood and his family called the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for assistance, spokeswoman Teri Barbera said.

A deputy outside Peterson’s home Friday said Peterson left town but didn’t elaborate.

>> Armed resource officer never ‘went in’ during Parkland shooting

Neighbors said Peterson moved in about a year ago and has been updating his home.

Nelson Sandy pointed to his front door.

“He’s right over there,” he said. Then he pointed to his newspaper. “And he’s right here.”

The neighbors differed on what Peterson should have done Feb. 14.

Sandy said he should have kept his job because he isn’t responsible for the shooting.

Another neighbor, who wouldn’t give his name but said he was an 83-year-old Army veteran who has volunteered for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office called Peterson’s inaction “terrible.

“He’s supposed to be a first responder,” the neighbor said.

The neighbor said he saw Peterson fixing screens at his home about a week and a half ago and asked if he had a day off. He said Peterson told him he had many sick days left.

Joe Sansone said Peterson is “involved in a terrible situation. He’s got parents (of students) that are angry at the world and he’s part of the world so they’re angry at him. But people are hurting and they got to strike back at somebody. I feel badly for him. I feel badly of course for the parents as well.”

Peterson received high marks in his work evaluations for years, achieving “meets expectations” and more often “exceeds expectations.”

“Deputy Peterson is trusted as the School Resource Officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. He values his position and takes pride in protecting the students, faculty and staff at his school,” one of his bosses wrote in his 2016-2017 evaluation.

He started at Stoneman Douglas around 2010 and before that held the same position at the McFatter Technical Institute in Davie. He attended Miami-Dade Community College and Florida International University.

Peterson did get into trouble once, however.

In 2015 he identified himself as a Broward County Sheriff’s Office employee in an email questioning the management of Chief Anthony Williams of the Broward District School Police. He was a Resident on Campus Security Program officer at Atlantic Technical College at the time and Williams recommended the ROCS be dissolved, according to records.

Peterson said Williams failed to supervise the program, but “we still everyday protect our kids and school campuses.”

The final recommendation at the conclusion of the internal affairs investigation was counsel.

Teachers and staff returned to Stoneman Douglas on Friday and some conversations focused on Peterson and how they thought if he went inside, the end result might have been different.

>> Shooting survivor to Trump: ‘I don’t want your condolences’

Douglas math teacher Jim Gard said he was “disgusted.”

“Instead of having 17 dead maybe there would be four dead and that sounds terrible to the people, especially the parents and family, but this never, ever, ever should have happened,” Gard said. “There is absolutely no excuse for an officer who is trained to not go in.”

Israel said Peterson, believed to be the only resource officer at the large Parkland school, arrived at the building 60 to 90 seconds into the shooting, which lasted just six minutes.

“What I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of Building 12, take up a position, and he never went in,” Israel said, adding Peterson is believed to have remained outside for upwards of four minutes. He said the surveillance video of Peterson is part of the investigation and might never be released.

“My expectation is the officers can handle any kind of situation they come upon,” Palm Beach County Schools Police Chief Lawrence Leon said Friday. “We train in ‘active shooter’ probably more than anybody, I would say. After Columbine, we started training that way; an ‘active shooter’ (situation) was to engage.”

He said while police always must make split-second decisions, “you do training so that becomes muscle memory.”

But he also said many of his officers told him they were “distraught” over the deputy’s inaction in Parkland.

“They felt, ‘How could (he) not respond when it’s kids.’”

Sara Ojalvo, Douglas High special needs assistant, said she found Peterson to be “charismatic” and was surprised to learn he had not taken action.

“You never know how you are going to react to a situation,” Ojalvo said. “Nobody knows what was on his mind. Why he didn’t go inside. We don’t know. That’s something so new. It’s almost too new to process. Because this is a person that was so charismatic.”

Others who spoke at Douglas High on Friday felt Peterson must share a larger burden of blame.

“How could he do it?” Broward teachers representative Anna Fusco said of Peterson. “Just as a person and a human being, I hope that (authorities) are taking the measures to figure out and find out why and how so they can help everyone else that’s put in that position that’s there to protect. To make sure it doesn’t happen again. The only one that can explain why he didn’t walk in is him.”

Senior at Parkland high school recalls moments when gunman opened fire

A high school senior spoke about her terrifying experience in the building at a high school in South Florida where a gunman opened fire last week, killing 17 people, WFOR reported. 

>> Read more trending news

Samantha Fuentes said she bruised her eye and cut her forehead during the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. She also suffered gunshot wounds to both legs, WFOR reported.

“I heard two shots fired in the hallway. The first two shots everyone froze; everyone was under the impression it was drill and that’s what we said to each other, and then the third shot was fired and that’s when we knew it wasn’t a drill,” Fuentes told WFOR.

Fuentes said she was sitting directly in front of the classroom door when gunfire erupted. She said she panicked and ran forward.

“That’s when I realized I made a very fatal mistake because it was not the right place to hide during a shooting,” Fuentes told WFOR. “You’re supposed to hide behind the door so when the shooter looks in the room you become pretty much invisible, so it looks like nobody is in the room but I ran forward. That’s when he shoved the barrel of his gun through the window of the door and started spraying pretty indiscriminately across the room.”

>> Florida governor calls for reform of state’s gun laws 

Fuentes said she and five of her classmates hid behind a podium.

It was “just a small space and that is where Helena (Ramsay) and Nick (Dworet) were sitting and were shot and killed right next to me,” Fuentes said. “Everything that hit them ricocheted and hit my legs, into my face and into my arm.”

When SWAT teams arrived, Fuentes ran from the building as she bled from her legs, WFOR reported.

Fuentes said she was “not really surprised” that school resource officer Scot Peterson, a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy did not enter the building to confront the shooter, who police have identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

>> Photos: Remembering Parkland Florida shooting victims 

“He did not have much of a presence in the school to begin with,” Fuentes told WFOR.

Fuentes said that Peterson “failed us.”

“You took an oath and you broke your promise and that is disappointing and I am disappointed in you,” she said.

3 rental car companies cancel discounts for NRA members

Three car rental companies have discontinued discounts and deals for National Rifle Association members, The Dallas Morning News reported.

>> Read more trending news

The moves by Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental, all owned by Enterprise Holdings, were done in the wake of the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.

The car rental companies will end their discounts on March 26, the Morning News reported.

>> NRA opposes raising minimum age to buy rifles

The NRA has faced intense criticism following the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

An NRA spokeswoman referred questions Thursday to the group's licensing department. A phone message left with that office was not immediately returned.

McDonald's manager in Cleveland accused of firing shots at customers

A McDonald’s manager in Cleveland allegedly fired shots at three women in a car at the restaurant’s drive-thru, police said.

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Cleveland police said they have issued an arrest warrant for the man after the alleged incident Wednesday morning, WJW reported.

According to a police report, the women were buying a smoothie at the drive-thru window. When one of the women opened her water bottle and some of the liquid splashed outside of the car, the McDonald’s employee cursed and then fired two shots, WJW reported.

The driver said one shot went into the car near a back tail light.

According to police, McDonald’s employees denied knowledge of shots being fired.

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