Deputy Claims that He’s “No Coward”, Thought Shots were Being Fired Outside of Building

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The Florida deputy who resigned after it was discovered he didn’t enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the mass shooting on Valentine’s Day is not “a coward” and acted appropriately, his lawyer said in a statement Monday.

Broward Deputy Scot Peterson has been heavily criticized for failing to enter the school and confront the gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

Peterson had been assigned to guard the school, and his actions — or lack of them — were even lambasted by President Trump, who called Peterson “a coward” last week. Trump on Monday again slammed Peterson and other officers who allegedly did not enter the school, saying “the way they performed was frankly disgusting.”

Peterson’s lawyer Joseph DiRuzzo said in multiple news accounts that the shooting and shots fired appeared to be coming from outside of the buildings.

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Deputy Scott Peterson, shown speaking in 2015, was armed and stationed on campus when Nikolas Cruz opened fire.

“Let there be no mistake, Mr. Peterson wishes that he could have prevented the untimely passing of the seventeen victims on that day, and his heart goes out to the families of the victims in their time of need,” according to the statement. “However, the allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue.”

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DiRuzzo said Peterson is confident he followed procedures and will be exonerated.

Peterson contends he took up a position outside Building 12 at the school after rushing over to respond to a report of firecrackers, “and not gunfire.”

“The allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue.”

– Joseph DiRuzzo, Scot Peterson’s lawyer

Once he got to the building, Peterson said he “heard gunshots but believed that those gunshots were originating from outside of any of the buildings on the school campus.”

“BSO trains its officers that in the event of outdoor gunfire one is to seek cover and assess the situation in order to communicate what one observes with other law enforcement,” the statement said.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, foreground, speaks along with Sheriff Scott Israel, center, of Broward County, and Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General, during a news conference near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a former student is suspected of killing at least 17 people Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. The shooting at a South Florida high school sent students rushing into the streets as SWAT team members swarmed in and locked down the building. Police were warning that the shooter was still at large even as ambulances converged on the scene and emergency workers appeared to be treating those possibly wounded. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, right, said the police response to the Parkland high school shooting will be investigated. Dozens of lawmakers are demanding Scott suspend Israel  (AP)

According to Peterson, he was the first Broward deputy to dispatch on police radio shots were being fired, and he told a first-arriving Coral Springs officer he “thought that the shots were coming from outside.”

That arriving officer then took up a tactical position behind a tree with his rifle.

“Radio transmissions indicated that there were a gunshot victim in the area of the football field, which served to confirm Mr. Peterson’s belief that the shooter, or shooters, were outside,” according to the statement.

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He also said he “had the presence of mind” to have school officials review cameras at the facility “to locate the shooter” and obtain a description for law enforcement.

Peterson resigned last week after Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel accused him of failing to confront the shooter.

It is unknown what type of training that Peterson or other responding deputies had as it pertains to active shooter response.

For several years it has been taught that officers, upon hearing active shots being fired, enter the school and engage the shooter in an effort to stop or kill the shooter.

This training emphasizes that officers not wait for back-up but to confront the shooter solo if need be.

4 Comments

  1. After Columbine, my agency held active shooter training for all of us. We learned how to quickly put together a fire team of officers and make entry to take out the shooter. I thought the training was well done, except for one thing, what was said afterwards. Any Officer who was not comfortable being on the fire team did not need to go. I guess I would not want that Officer then anyway, but in my opinion, any Officer who cannot or will not risk his or her life to save others has NO business carrying a Badge

  2. I’d be more impressed if the statement would have been articulated within a day or two after the shooting. Almost two weeks later it’s easy to fit a story to the known facts.

    There is the “Fog of battle” that can happen, but one should be able to tell the difference from shots being fired outside and inside by the acoustical signature.

    Entering the building and disrupting the shooter’s OODA loop is the objective. These shooters are cowards and flee or commit suicide when confronted. At the very least the SRO should know the building like the back of his hand so he can maneuver, flank, and gain a superior position on the shooter.

    The SRO must preplan “response” from all areas of the campus. Everyday he or she must battle plan, “If I’m here and X happens in building 10, I’ll do ABC.” What are the weak points of all of the buildings, are there service entrances that I can use to a tactical advantage?

    Again, this must planned every day. The excuse, “That isn’t going to happen here.” is a death sentence for students and faculty…… and the SRO.

  3. Do kids running from a particular place not indicate where the shooter is? Did he not ask a fleeing child where the gunman was? I could not live with myself if I didn’t do everything in my power to stop the slaughter of innocent children. My verdict, not being there, …..coward. Hiding 4 minutes of a 6 minute shooting?

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