BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. (ABC News) – Broward County sheriff’s deputies will now carry AR-15 rifles while on school campuses following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last week, Sheriff Scott Israel announced Wednesday.
The new policy was implemented Wednesday morning. In lieu of gun lockers, the only time deputies will not be “slinging a rifle” is when the firearm is locked in police vehicles, Israel said.
The rifles will not be fully automatic and will only be handled by deputies who are “trained and qualified” to operate them, Israel said.
The suspect in the shooting, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, allegedly used a variant of the AR-15 to carry out the deadly attack, which killed 17 people, authorities said.
When asked by a reporter what the motive in the shooting was, Israel responded, “Pure evil.”
Israel suggested a “three-pronged approach” to better secure schools, which includes fortifying the buildings, evaluating how many school resource deputies are needed at each school and sensible gun control.
“There are some people in this country that shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun,” Israel said.
At least one armed school resource deputy was on campus at the time of the shooting, and his response and actions will be “looked at and scrutinized,” Israel said. “You’re darn right he was prepared to do something about it,” Israel said of the school resource deputy.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump held a listening session with students and parents affected by school shootings. In addition, lawmakers in Florida are facing political pressure following the Parkland shooting.
Israel thanked the numerous law enforcement agencies that assisted in the shooting response and commended the students who traveled to Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., to speak out about gun control.
The sheriff vowed to remain transparent throughout the investigation and keep the public informed as important information comes to light.
Cruz was arrested in a residential neighborhood near his former high school more than an hour after the shooting began. He was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and is being held in a Broward County jail.
ABC News’ Amanda Maile and Armando Garcia contributed to this report.