The Tampa Bay area sheriff overseeing an investigation into the Florida school massacre says the state’s mental health evaluation law would not have prevented suspect Nikolas Cruz from buying guns.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Thursday that some people believe that if Cruz had been subjected to the state’s Baker Act, he would have been banned from purchasing weapons. He called that “flat-out erroneous.”

Under the Baker Act, Florida can involuntarily commit a person for mental health evaluation for up to 72 hours. A police officer, judge, doctor or mental health official must believe the person is mentally ill and a near-term danger to themselves or others. 

School and law enforcement officials considered committing Cruz under the Baker Act in 2016, but did not. Even if he had been, Gualtieri said he still could have bought a gun.

Gualtieri is chair of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which meets once a month for three days.

The commission set up to determine what went wrong leading up to the Parkland shooting wrapped up its latest monthly meetings on Thursday.

The commission looked at some of the failures that led to the shooting tragedy in February.

One of the big issues highlighted – different mental health systems don’t communicate with each other enough. 

“It’s horrible,” said Max Schachter, father of Alex Schachter, one of the MSD students who was killed. “And that’s a concern of mine, that we could have more of these attacks if we don’t address these issues. It’s very disconcerting that these agencies don’t talk, and they have these silos of information. It’s never gonna get fixed if we’re not communicating.”

Mental health professionals explained in detail how the state’s mental health systems work, from budgets to the Baker Act.

Another issue highlighted by those experts is the transition from child to adult for kids who are under the care of mental health professionals – which specifically affected the Parkland shooter.

“In this case, with [Nikolas] Cruz, he fell off the grid,” said Sheriff Gualtieri.

“When he turned 18, he refused services. And soon after that, he moved.”

Law enforcement officers talked about some of their frustrations with Florida’s mental health systems as well. 

Grady Judd of Polk County, another Tampa Bay area sheriff on the commission, said it’s a frustrating situation for his deputies, who often interact with someone threatening themselves or others, but are released quickly from the mental health system if they know how to “say the right things.”

He also said parents of kids who express dangerous thoughts or behavior also feel frustration.

“You refer your child from mental health counseling,” said Judd, “then therapists can’t legally share with you the details of the counseling.”

But Ute Gazioch, Director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health in Florida’s Department of Children and Families, explained why that protection for children in counseling is necessary.

“A lot of times, we have abusive parents,” said Gazioch. “A lot of times, things like sexual abuse and physical abuse are disclosed in therapy sessions. And there’s an argument to be made that much of that would not be disclosed if a child thought everything they said in therapy would be said to their parents. So it works both ways.”

Commissioners also heard presentations about the Baker Act, including a correction of a big misconception about the law–on its own, it does not disqualify someone from owning or purchasing a gun. The law forces someone to be evaluated by mental health professionals, but that on its own is not a disqualification.

Several of Florida’s mental health and law enforcement systems failed to handle Nikolas Cruz and the risk he was to his former high school students, but the failures started at home – Cruz’s mother was an enabler.

“What his mother facilitated was him obtaining a state ID card so he could then go purchase the firearm,” said Sheriff Gualtieri.

Commissioners will meet again every month between now and November. They must file an initial report to the state legislature on their findings by January 1, 2019.