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Ex-resource officer at Parkland school reflects on lack of response: 'I have to live with that'

The former school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who did not enter the building where a mass shooter killed 14 students and three adults at the South Florida school on Feb. 14, expressed regret in his first public interview that he did not intervene.

>> Read more trending news

“Knowing what I know today, I would have been in that building in a heartbeat,” Scot Peterson told NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie on Today, in an interview that will air Tuesday and Wednesday on the morning program.

The interview will be aired two  days after graduation ceremonies were held at Stoneman Douglas. Four of the students killed were seniors.

Guthrie asked Peterson if he could acknowledge that “You missed it,” referring to his response when Nikolas Cruz entered the building in the South Florida high school and opened fire.

“I have to,” Peterson said. “I have to live with that. You know, how could I not?

“I mean, I'm human … in the perfect world, oh, I would have said, ‘Oh, yeah, I know there was a shooter in there. Let me go to the third floor. Find this person.’”

>> Jimmy Fallon surprises Parkland students at graduation 

Peterson, 54, began working at the Parkland high school in 2010. He spent nearly three decades with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.

After the incident, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel criticized Peterson’s lack of action and suspended the deputy without pay. Peterson then decided to retire.

His actions were criticized by students and parents, and President Donald Trump called Peterson “a coward.” 

The father of Meadow Pollack, who was killed in the Valentine’s Day shooting, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Broward County that included Peterson as a defendant.

Man armed with sword robs Pittsburgh bar

A man armed with a sword robbed a bar early Monday morning in a Pittsburgh neighborhood, police said.

>> Read more trending news

The robbery was reported shortly before 2 a.m. at Brook-line N Sinker in the Brookline neighborhood.

Police said the sword-wielding man robbed the business before running away.

No injuries were reported.

Police have yet to identify a suspect.

Massachusetts graduate gets diploma, is surprised by father's return from overseas

Massachusetts high school graduate got quite a surprise when he received his diploma on Saturday.

>> Read more trending news

In a video posted by Marshfield Student Broadcasting, Marshfield High School senior Tyler Solomon was reunited with his father after receiving his diploma Saturday afternoon.

Solomon's father made the surprise return trip from a yearlong deployment overseas, and surprised his son on the football field where graduation was held.

Kindergarten class starts each day with handshake

If only our country worked like this kindergarten class. Ashley Taylor’s class starts their learning day the same way every day.

Taylor picks one of her students at Keene Elementary School in Texas to give a handshake to each and every classmate as they enter the room, CBS News reported.

She says the daily greeting could help her students’ development.

>> Read more trending news 

Taylor posted one of the daily hellos to her Facebook page where it has gone viral. She added the caption, “When I see the direction the world is heading, it reminds me what I am doing WILL make a difference.”

While the daily hello could be considered a bright spot, she said there’s meaning behind it, that it teaches her students good manners and that “someone is on their side,” Taylor told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“The school shootings have been a real eye opener,” She told the newspaper. “Maybe if some of those kids had felt like someone was on their side, things would have happened differently. I understand there are lots of factors that play into those situations. But what if, you know?”

“Sadly, lots of kids (of all ages) come to school looking for the positive interaction that they may not have experienced at home. Life can be hard for kids but it shouldn’t be at school,” Taylor told The Star-Telegram.

 

Teen graduates from both high school, college in same week

A teen from Maryland has already graduated college and he’s still not old enough to drive a car. Torrington Ford graduated from Anne Arundel Community College at the age of 15. But the educational feat wasn’t fully unexpected. 

His mother, Tarita, started homeschooling Torrington when he was only 2 years old. But she told the Capital Gazette that her son got bored after awhile. Tarita tried making the school work more difficult, so when he was 12, while doing high school-level courses, Torrington took a placement test for college. He tested into credit classes and enrolled into Anne Arundel Community College to take political science, college algebra and English.  

>> Read more trending news 

Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Torrington took college classes. Tuesday and Thursday, he was a high school student being homeschooled by Tarita, the Capital Gazette reported

Torrington graduated last week from from both college on Thursday and high school on Saturday.

He finished college with a concentration in science, including taking two physics classes in one semester. He also plays various sports including football, basketball, baseball and track. 

He also found he has a love for flying and will study aviation engineering at Ohio State next year. 

The family are moving from Maryland to Columbus, Ohio, WUSA reportedThe Capital Gazette reported they’re going early so he can start bridge classes in July to prepare for the fall semester and will take classes that will help him become a pilot when he graduates. He would like to be a commercial pilot, WUSA reported.

If all goes as planned, he will graduate with a degree from the Aeronautical Engineering Program before he’s out of his teens, WUSA reported.

University of Memphis to offer free tuition to fallen service members' children, spouses

Next year, the University of Memphis in Tennessee will help cover the tuition of children and spouses of fallen service members.

>> Watch the news report here

The U of M is the first college in the country to ensure students who qualify for the Folds of Honor scholarship will not have to pay for their education.

>> PHOTOS: Memorial Day’s solemn reminder of those who made the ultimate sacrifice

“I'm excited for Memphis to be spearheading something as exciting news,” said Celeste Von Ahnen, who lives in Memphis.

The details of the program are not finalized, but a university spokesperson told WHBQ in a statement that “there will be a possible cap on how many will be admitted and that it is only for Tennessee residents.”

>> PHOTOS: Scouts place flags on veteran graves to mark Memorial Day

According to the Commercial Appeal, the nonprofit Folds of Honor has been searching for a university to accept its $5,000 scholarship as "payment-in-full," and the U of M is the first get on board. 

The university told WHBQ that it will locate other opportunities and scholarships to make up the rest of the nearly $10,000 in-state tuition.

>> Read more trending news 

“I think it's awesome to give back to people (who) have lost and given so much. That would be awesome to give back to them, especially in ways of scholarships,” said Allyson Carneal, a student at nearby Christian Brothers University.

It is unclear how many current students at the university are on the Folds of Honor scholarship.

>> JetBlue 'saves a seat' in honor of Memorial Day

WHBQ has reached out to the university to ask about the impact of the decision. It is also unknown how the university plans to supplement the remaining tuition balance.

“I'm sure it is just an extra weight off their shoulders. I can only imagine what that is like, not having to worry about something so burdensome,” said Von Ahnen.

>> President Trump marks Memorial Day

It is a move that Memphis is the first to do, but will likely not be the last. On Memorial Day, many Americans reflected on the sacrifice of men and women who serve the country.

The University of Memphis is making sure their relatives are taken care of year-round, and for years to come.

Preschool says 3-year-old's sundress inappropriate

Preschool officials in Canada deemed a 3-year-old girl's sundress to be inappropriate, leaving parents disappointed and bewildered.

>> Read more trending news 

Sadie Stonehouse told CTV News that while the sundress goes down to her daughter Lola's ankles, officials said the shoulder straps were not wide enough. School policy requires straps to be at least two inches wide, CTV News reported. 

Stonehouse said that in order for Lola to be able to wear the sundress to preschool again, school officials told her she'd have to wear a shirt underneath it. Stonehouse chose the dress for her daughter because of a heat wave the Winnipeg area was experiencing, so she said adding a layer defeats the purpose of wearing the outfit.

The mother was at a loss of how she would explain to her young daughter why she couldn't wear the dress to preschool anymore, CTV News reported.

An official at Little Years Nursery School told CTV News that the preschool follows the dress code of the area's school division, but a Pembina Trails School Division spokesperson said there is no official dress code. 

Family: 15-year-old’s skull fractured in ‘body slam’ by school security officer

An Alabama teenager is recovering from a fractured skull that his family says he suffered Monday when a school resource officer at his high school “body-slammed” him headfirst onto concrete. 

Steven Franklin, 15, of Huntsville, was left in the intensive care unit following the incident, which took place at Jemison High School, WHNT News 19 in Huntsville reported. Along with the cracked skull, Franklin suffered internal bleeding and required emergency surgery, according to family friend Zach Finey. 

“There’s swelling on the right side of his head that’s about the size of a cantaloupe,” said Finey, a volunteer with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program who is Franklin’s “big brother.”

“He body-slammed Steven on the side of his temple, onto the concrete, and at that time Steve had a seizure that we’ve been told lasted about 30 seconds,” Finey told the news station

WAAY-TV obtained photos of the teen in the hospital that show the swelling to his head and what appears to be about 60 staples closing his scalp following surgery.  

>> Read more trending news

Finey said the teen does not remember the incident, but that the boy’s friends told his family the school resource officer was attempting to break up a fight and stepped in after another student threw punches at Franklin. 

AL.com reported that cellphone camera footage shows a portion of the fight, as well as the aftermath of Franklin being injured. The teen could be seen lying on the ground with the security guard standing over him. 

The alleged actions of the guard were not caught on camera, the news site reported

Police investigators are looking into the incident, a Huntsville Police Department spokesman confirmed to AL.com. Huntsville City Schools is also investigating what happened.

Keith Ward, a school district spokesman, said that the security officer, who is a contract employee, would remain off-campus through the end of the school year. According to the school calendar, Thursday was the last day of classes. 

Finey on Wednesday afternoon credited the media with putting pressure on the school district to answer questions about what happened to Franklin. 

“We are still a long way away from getting answers, and Steven has a long road of recovery, but the first steps have now been taken, thanks to you all,” Finey wrote on Facebook

He told AL.com and WHNT that the teen’s condition had begun to improve. 

“He’s actually being moved from ICU to a regular room,” Finey told AL.com. "He’s walked for the first time. He's started to ask questions about what happened. He doesn’t remember what happened, just waking up after his surgery.”

Finey told WHNT that Franklin has been distraught since finding out what happened. He and his family are also worried about the long-term effects of his injury. 

“It’s sad when you see how sad and depressed he’s getting when he’s realizing, ‘What has happened to me? And why did it happen?’” Finey said. “And he wants to know just as much as his mother and his family, his friends.”

Mom with cancer sees twin daughters graduate in special ceremony before her death

When twin sisters Morgan and Regan McVey graduate Thursday from Talawanda High School in Oxford, Ohio, it will actually be their second commencement ceremony.

Earlier this year, the school provided a special moment for the seniors and their mother, who was diagnosed with cancer last fall.

As the school year moved into its second semester, it was evident their mother, Carey McVey, would not live to see the graduation ceremony.

>> WATCH: Texas teen walks for first time in months, stuns prom date in heartwarming viral video

“Mr. (Tom) York and others arranged to give us a mini graduation ceremony,” Regan said of the school’s principal. “We had our caps and gowns and got our actual diplomas. Mom got to see them.”

“That was one thing she wanted to see,” Morgan added.

Their mother died in February. She was 43 years old, according to her obituary.

The diplomas were on a table at their home until last week when they were returned to the school so the seniors could receive them again at Thursday’s ceremony.

>> Read more trending news 

The gesture, the twins said, reinforced their decision to attend the Oxford school.

The McVey twins were unknown to their classmates when they started at Talawanda High School four years ago after finishing the eighth grade at Queen of Peace School.

“We had to make new friends here. We did not know anyone,” Morgan McVey said.

The high school choice took some discussion between the sisters.

“Regan wanted to go to Talawanda. I wanted to go to Badin,” Morgan said.

Now, they both said they are happy with their decision.

“The school really supported us through it all,” Morgan said, referring to her mother’s cancer diagnosis and her death.

>> On Journal-News.com: Oxford community advocate ‘lived life to the fullest’

While the family tragedy will forever be linked to their senior year of high school, they said they did not let it affect their personalities or interactions with others, although classmates were often surprised by that.

“We are always happy. We joke around a lot. We talk a lot. People forget. Then they say, ‘Your mother… .’ It’s definitely been an experience,” Regan said.

Both young women have been cheerleaders all four years of high school and both have been involved in dance all four years, with Regan on homecoming court her junior year and prom court this spring.

Both, also found satisfaction in passing on their own love of dance by teaching it to younger children at area dance studios.

The fact they are twins earned them a memorable experience outside of school, too.

As their senior year dawned, they appeared in a television commercial promoting the Big Ten conference. The theme of the promo was twins and they auditioned last spring in Chicago, which led to a two-day video shoot, also in Chicago.

>> On Journal-News.com: New gateways to welcome Miami U., Oxford visitors

The commercial appeared on the Big Ten Network and ESPN as well as other television channels. For Morgan, it was a strange feeling the first time she saw it aired.

“I did not know it was out. I was in bed with my television on and saw my face. It just popped up,” she said.

They said they are thinking about using it as a stepping stone to doing some modeling, but they know that profession is a difficult one to get into and then only lasts a certain time. They are planning a careful route of going to college to train for teaching professions and then see what happens.

Regan McVey is looking at early childhood education while Morgan is opting for a degree in integrated language arts for grades 7-12. They plan to attend Miami University Hamilton in the fall to start their college careers.

>> On Journal-News.com: Hall of Famer Huismann approved as Talawanda’s head girls hoop coach

Morgan said no one in their family teaches, but she hopes to emulate some of the good teachers she has had at Talawanda.

Regan opts for younger students after her work with young dancers.

“I like little kids. I think it’s interesting to teach them when they are young,” she said.

The sisters are among 21 members of the graduating class recognized with the President’s Award for Educational Achievement.

The twins agree high school at Talawanda has been a great experience. Their mother and their father, Shane, were both Talawanda High School graduates.

University survey asking if students want to know whether 'black people hate America' draws ire

A Texas university is experiencing backlash over a cultural survey asking students to rate their interest in learning answers to controversial questions like, "Do black people hate America?" 

>> Huge cookout held at Oakland park where cops called on black family's barbecue

According to the Dallas Morning News, Southern Methodist University's Cultural Intelligence Initiative first posted the survey, titled "Ask Anything, Seriously," last fall. 

"Let's face it, we all have questions about the people we encounter in our day-to-day lives," reads an introduction to the survey. "We come from different races, cultures, countries, cities, religions and ideologies. We want to avoid mistakes or even worse, offending someone, but we really want to know."

>> Read more trending news 

The introduction goes on to say the survey aims to reveal "important cultural information" and see which questions people of different races "have been dying to ask friends, colleagues and total strangers."

>> Read the full intro here

Those questions – which include "Why are black people so loud?," "Do black people hate America?" and "Why do black people always complain about segregation but always want their own TV stations?" – drew ire last week after a Twitter user shared screenshots of the survey.

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