The Florida deputy who failed to confront the gunman during the mass shooting on Feb. 14 claims he is not a coward.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel revealed around a week after the shooting that Scot Peterson, the armed school resource officer, stood outside while Nikolas Cruz was shooting teachers and students.
Cruz ultimately killed 17 and wounded 16 in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Israel suspended Peterson after seeing video footage of Peterson’s response, hearing witness accounts, and getting a statement from Peterson.
Shortly after being suspended, Peterson resigned.
But Peterson said in a new statement through his lawyer that he was just following procedure.
NEW: Scot Peterson, former Broward County school resource deputy assigned to Stoneman Douglas High School, hires attorneys to respond to "unfounded criticism of his actions" in response to deadly shooting. https://t.co/6Ul14PHg4u pic.twitter.com/oTEFFmTzYY
— ABC News (@ABC) February 26, 2018
“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,” the lawyer, Joseph DiRuzzo III, said, reported NBC.
“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. Mr. Peterson is confident that his actions on that day were appropriate under the circumstances and that the video (together with the eye-witness testimony of those on the scene) will exonerate him of any sub-par performance.”
Besides Peterson, three other Broward County deputies stood outside during the shooting as opposed to entering the building and hunting down the shooter, sources told CNN. Deputies from nearby Coral Springs were shocked when they arrived and saw the deputies standing outside.
An ARMED police officer with crisis training in an active shooter situation FROZE and did not enter the scene of… https://t.co/0uSri45PYL
— David Spaeth (@renegadesapper) February 23, 2018
Israel has faced criticism for the response of his deputies but claimed that their actions didn’t reflect upon his leadership and has refused to resign, reported Fox News.
President Donald Trump addressed the situation on Monday, saying that Peterson likely chose not to enter the school.
When police officers arrived during the shooting, many were surprised to find that not only had Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Scot Peterson not entered the building, three Broward County Sheriff's deputies were also outside the school. https://t.co/nPMtMHKUH8
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) February 23, 2018
“Standing outside of that school he wanted no part of it. He heard the power and he heard probably the screaming and the bullets and he wanted no part of it,” Trump said, reported ABC.
Trump had previously said that Peterson was a “coward.”
“When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn’t have the courage or something happened. But he certainly did a poor job. There’s no question about that,” Trump said, reported USA Today, during his comments to the Conservative Political Action Committee.
“That’s a case where somebody was outside, they’re trained, they didn’t act properly or under pressure or they were a coward. It was a real shock to the police department.”