Updated: This post has now been updated (see below) to include additional information that indicates at least three other Broward County Sheriff’s deputies (four total, including Peterson) hid outside rather than enter the school and attempt to stop the shooting.
As school shooter Nikolas Cruz was walking around the inside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting children, a school resource officer was idly standing by right outside the door of the school. Instead of rushing in to confront the killer or at least attempting to helping the students get away safely, Deputy Scot Peterson just stood around outside doing nothing.
According to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, security footage during the shooting captured Deputy Peterson, whose job ostensibly consists of protecting the school he is assigned to, approaching the door of Building 12, where the shooting took place. In spite of being “armed, in uniform, and clearly” knowing that there was someone inside the school shooting defenseless people, Peterson stopped short of entering the building.
Instead, he took cover outside and waited for around four minutes while the shooting, which resulted in 17 deaths and 15 others being injured, continued unabated. Additionally, after other police officers reached the school Cruz was able to walk off campus by mingling with students as they evacuated. He remained free for over an hour after the attack, spending much of that time walking around a nearby Walmart.
Even prior to the video exposing his cowardly act, his lack of presence as well as statements from students that they had seen him at the front of the school during the shooting had already led to questions about where he was and why he hadn’t confronted Cruz.
Via the Sun Sentinel:
“What I saw was a deputy arrive … take up a position and he never went in,” the sheriff said at a news conference. “There are no words. I mean these families lost their children. We lost coaches,” Israel said…
“I’m in shock and I’m outraged to no end that he could have made a difference in all this,” (Broward Schools Superintendent Robert) Runcie said Thursday. “It’s really disturbing that we had a law enforcement individual there specifically for this reason, and he did not engage. He did not do his job. It’s one of the most unbelievable things I’ve ever heard.”
Stoneman Douglas student Brandon Huff, 18, a senior, said he had seen Peterson standing outside the building and talking on his radio during the shooting.
Huff said he first learned of the shooting in a text message from his girlfriend, who said she was hiding in a corner and shots rang out.
“Two coaches went in and were shielding kids and throwing themselves in front of bullets and he did nothing.”
As a result of these revelations, a formal investigation was launched and Peterson was suspended without pay by Sheriff Israel. However, after being told of the suspension Deputy Peterson resigned. Later that same day, he filed for retirement. By avoiding being fired, which would have been the likely result of that investigation Peterson will be able to retain his pension and benefits.
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During the February 22nd press conference in which his suspension and subsequent retirement was announced, Sheriff Israel stated that the department would not be releasing the video. Potentially, that means that the public might never see the actual footage of Peterson shirking his duties in favor of self-preservation.
In addition, it was announced that two other deputies have also been suspended. Those deputies are currently being investigated for their improper responses to previous warning from people that knew Nikolas Cruz. On top of 23 incidents that police responded to at Cruz’ house since 2008, several reports were made to authorities regarding his violent tendencies.
That included specific threats he had made to attack a school. Deputies Edward Eason and Guntis Treijs failed to follow up on those reports. In at least one case, no report was compiled to document the concerns. Similarly, the FBI never investigated Cruz after receiving at least two reports about his behavior. One of those tips, received in September specifically referenced a YouTube comment in which Cruz threatened a school shooting.
Of course, like a good percentage of the cops featured on NVCopBlock.org, Deputy Peterson is a “decorated veteran” having received an award as Parkland School Resource Officer of the Year in 2014 and was also nominated for “Parkland Deputy of the Year” in 2017.
Update: At Least Four Broward County Deputies Hid Outside, Rather Than Entering the School During the Shooting
The New York Post is now reporting that at least three other cops hid behind their cars outside of the school, instead of entering the building where Nikolas Cruz was actively engaged in shooting unarmed and defenseless students. Citing CNN sources within the Coral Springs Police Department, the Post states that CSPD officers were shocked to find those deputies taking cover behind their cars outside the school when they arrived.
Reportedly, this has created “bad blood” between the two police departments:
Coral Springs City Manager Mike Goodrum confronted Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel over the incident during a vigil the following day, saying injured kids could have been dying inside the building while the deputies held back, sources tell CNN.
And the next day, Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi wrote in an internal memo:
“I understand that another agency has given the impression that it had provided the majority of the rescue efforts, and that the tremendous work of the Coral Springs Police and Fire Departments has not been recognized.”
“Please know that this issue will be addressed, and the truth will come out in time,” he added.
The Coral Springs officers’ experiences will be included in a new report coming out next week, according to the news site.
This probably clears up why Sheriff Israel wants to make sure that security footage is never released publicly.
Broward County Sheriff’s Office Press Conference
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Kelly is a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, who’s been very active in local grassroots activism, as well as on a national level during his extensive travels. He’s also the founder/main contributor of Nevada Cop Block, served as editor/contributor at CopBlock.org and designed the Official Cop Block Press Passes.
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