FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Anthony Borges, among the most seriously wounded survivors of the Parkland school massacre, appeared at a news conference Friday evening with his father and denounced authorities for failing to prevent the shooting that left him with five bullet wounds.
Wearing a black and orange Nike shirt that hung loosely on him, he was wheeled into a conference room at the Sheraton Suites in Plantation by his grandfather. Both legs, where he had received three bullet wounds, were propped up.
He did not speak. Instead, his lawyer, Alex Arreaza, read a statement from the teen criticizing the Broward County School District and Broward Sheriff’s Office for policies that he said allowed gunman Nikolas Cruz to get a series of second chances, rather than being dealt with so he couldn’t have shot up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, leaving 17 dead.
“I know I’ve been called Iron Man,” Arreaza said, reading the boy’s statement. “And while I’m honored to be called this, I am not. I’m a 15-year-old who’s been shot five times, while Broward Sheriff’s deputies waited outside and decided that they weren’t going to come in the building.”Addressing himself to Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and School Superintendent Robert Runcie, Borges’ statement said, “I want to thank you for visiting me in the hospital. But I want to say that both of you failed us students and parents and teachers alike on so many levels.”
He criticized an agreement between the sheriff’s office and school district intended to prevent children from being arrested, which he said created a permissive atmosphere that allowed Cruz to remain free despite repeated incidents and warning signs.
“I want to ask you today to please end your policy and agreement that you do not arrest people committing crimes at our schools,” the boy said. “I want all of us to move forward and 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. I ask you today to make a commitment to protect the students and teachers and provide a safe learning environment. People are tired of empty promises that allow this environment to remain.”
The Borges family said they did not appreciate the sheriff having pictures taken during his hospital visit, which ended up being widely publicized. “The family is still upset about it,” Arreaza said. “They didn’t appreciate it.”
Anthony’s father, Royer Borges, said the outpouring of community financial support has helped but is insufficient to cover hospital bills that his lawyer said could top $1.5 million.
“I appreciate all of the charity that the community has given us. It’s not enough to cover all of the damages, including his career.”
Like his son, Royer Borges blamed BSO and the school district.
“My son’s soccer career is over, and it’s all their fault,” he said.
The family has filed notice of intent to sue the school district.
The deputy who failed to go in and confront Cruz has resigned. Other BSO actions are under internal investigation. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has opened an investigation into the response to the shooting.
Tracey Clark, spokeswoman for the school district, said the district does not comment on potential or pending litigation.
Earlier on Friday, Anthony’s parents went to El Dorado Furniture in Coconut Creek to receive a check and pick out free furniture for their new home.
Emily Delfin and Royer Borges had to quit their jobs to care for Anthony.
Fellow students say he helped block a door to a classroom, where 20 students were sheltering from the gunman.
In anticipation of his recent return from the hospital, the Borges family had to leave their fourth-floor apartment and find a one-story house, because Anthony can’t climb stairs.
No More Tears Inc., a nonprofit group that helps victims of violence and human sex trafficking, has helped the family find a new house in Coral Springs, paying their initial rent and security deposit and donating $1,000 a month for rent.
The foundation presented the couple with a check for $37,000.
“(Anthony) lost a lot of weight,” his mother said at El Dorado. “He’s really skinny. For him to stay in just one position is hard. It’s painful for him.”
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