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This Is What Scot Peterson Did During the Parkland School Shooting

By Wire Service Content

Former school resource officer Scot Peterson was widely criticized after he failed to confront a shooter who opened fire and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office active shooter policy calls for deputies to interrupt a shooting and search for victims when there’s a ceasefire.

Florida school shooting
Students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooter opened fire on the campus, on Feb. 14, 2018. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

More than a year after the massacre, the former Broward County sheriff’s deputy now faces child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury charges.

Peterson’s attorney, Joseph A. DiRuzzo III, said the charges appear to be “a thinly veiled attempt at politically motivated retribution against Mr. Peterson.” He said Peterson cannot be prosecuted as a caregiver since he was acting as a law enforcement officer in an official capacity.

Here’s what we know about Peterson’s response to the shooting.

He Was Armed but Never Went Inside the Building

When shots rang out at the Parkland school, Peterson didn’t run toward the gunfire.

Senior Brandon Huff claimed he saw Peterson standing outside behind a stairwell wall with his gun drawn “just pointing it at the building.”

“He’s wearing a bulletproof vest … while school security guards, coaches pretty much, were running in shielding kids,” he said.

Footage from the school surveillance cameras showed Peterson positioned outside of the school.

Last year, authorities released an edited 27-minute video with portions of surveillance video from that day.

The video begins with Peterson, wearing his deputy’s uniform, standing between two buildings on campus talking to another adult, then appearing to speak into a radio handset on his shoulder.

He walks off screen, but a few minutes later, Peterson appears from another angle positioned outside a building. Students, whose images are pixelated, walk into the frame and then out of it.

In past interviews, DiRuzzo said Peterson believed the gunshots were coming from outside the building.

He Hid for More Than 45 Minutes

Peterson arrived at the 1200 building—where the massacre took place—and then moved 75 feet to a “position of increased personal safety” near the 700 and 800 buildings, an arrest warrant affidavit said.

The warrant says Peterson stayed there for more than 45 minutes.

During that time, the gunman killed five students and one teacher, authorities said.

School crossing guard Wendy Behrend lights a candle at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the one-year anniversary of the school shooting, in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14, 2019. (Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo)

He Did Report Hearing Gunshots

While he was outside the building, Peterson got on his radio and took a position where he could see the western entry, Former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel had said.

Though his attorney said Peterson wasn’t sure where the shots were coming from, he can be heard in dispatch audio released last year saying, “I think we have shots fired, possible shots fired, 1200 building.”

Immediately after the shooting, responding officers scrambled to the scene but appeared to be following commands from Peterson to close the road in front of the school and set up a perimeter.

Emma Rothenberg, left to right, with her mother Cheryl Rothenberg and sister,
Emma Rothenberg, left to right, with her mother Cheryl Rothenberg and sister, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Sophia Rothenberg embrace at a memorial marking the one-year anniversary of a mass shooting at the school in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2019. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)

He Was Widely Criticized by Officials

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Peterson was publicly criticized by then-Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel as well as President Donald Trump.

Trump called him a coward and criticized him on several occasions.

“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 of Peterson on the White House South Lawn, days after the shooting.

“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,” Peterson’s lawyer, DiRuzzo, said in a statement last year.

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