Thursday 26 April 2018

Student shot several times during Florida massacre ‘making full recovery’

Maddy Wilford was wounded in the chest and abdomen by high calibre bullets and is lucky to be alive, doctors said.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor Maddy Wilford told a press conference she will make a full recovery (AP)
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor Maddy Wilford told a press conference she will make a full recovery (AP)

By Kelli Kennedy, Brendan Farrington and Terry Spencer

A student who suffered multiple gunshot wounds during a mass shooting at a Florida high school has thanked medics and first responders who saved her life.

Maddy Wilford, 17, said at a hospital news conference: “It’s times like these when I know that we need to stick together.”

Ms Wilford is making a full recovery after undergoing three surgeries since the shooting on February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which left 17 people dead.

Broward Health North’s Dr Igor Nichiporenko said: “She’s very lucky, very, very lucky,” adding that she had survived despite large calibre bullets penetrating her chest and abdomen.

Flanked by her mother and father, Ms Wilford said: “I’m just glad that I’m making a full recovery and everything is going smoothly.”

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Maddy Wilford and her father take part in a press conference (AP)

The school, which has a roll of 3,200 students, will reopen on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Florida governor Rick Scott has asked Florida Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen to investigate the law enforcement response to the shooting.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel has faced criticism after the revelation last week that deputy Scot Peterson, the school’s assigned security officer, was nearby when the shooting began, but did not go into the building to confront the suspect during the attack.

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Ms Wilford and her mother thanked first responders who saved her (AP)

The sheriff’s office is also facing a backlash for apparently mishandling some of the 18 tip-offs related to the suspected shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz. The tips were among a series of what authorities now describe as clear warning signs that Cruz, who had a history of disturbing behaviour, posed a serious threat.

Sheriff Israel defended his leadership and said investigators are looking into claims that three other deputies were on the scene but failed to enter the school when the chance to save lives still existed. To date, the investigation has pointed to only one deputy being on school grounds while the killer was present.

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A man signs a banner in tribute to the victims of the mass shooting (AP)

Sheriff Israel labelled as “absolutely untrue” reports that the deputies waited outside, even though children were inside the building needing urgent medical treatment.

An attorney for former deputy Mr Peterson said accusations that he had been unprofessional or cowardly during the shooting are untrue.

Joseph DiRuzzo said the one-time school resource officer of the year did not go inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School because it sounded like the shooting was happening outside the building.

Mr DiRuzzo said Mr Peterson is confident he followed procedures and will be exonerated.

The FBI has acknowledged that it failed to investigate a tip about Cruz it received on January 5.

Earlier, actress and TV star Oprah Winfrey praised survivors of the massacre who have channelled anger and grief into activism, calling them “warriors of the light” and comparing them to civil rights pioneers.

Press Association

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