The Broward County Sheriff’s deputy who retired Thursday after an internal review found that he never entered the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School building during last week’s deadly gun massacre has said he believes he performed his job well.
Scot Peterson had been assigned to the school as a School Resource Deputy (SRD) since 2008. When Nikolas Cruz opened fire in a school building on February 14, Peterson reportedly remained outside the building where Cruz was gunning down classmates and teachers. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel announced Peterson’s resignation and retirement at a press conference Thursday, when he revealed, with palpable anger, that Peterson did not enter the school or engage with the shooter, who was able to blend in with fellow students evacuating the school and was not apprehended until later that afternoon.
“Devastated, sick to my stomach — there are no words,” Israel said at the news conference.
According to the New York Post, Jim Bell, the president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, told reporters that Peterson believed he performed his duty.
“He believed he did a good job calling in the location, setting up the perimeter and calling in the description (of Cruz),” Bell reportedly said.
While his criticism was more measured than Sheriff Israel’s, Bell acknowledged that officers are expected to intervene more actively.
“We have to act, even if that means risking our lives to save many, many more lives. I would demand that from our union members,” said Bell, still a working deputy.
“You’re listening to an execution every time you hear the rifle shot.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Peterson also appears to have contributed to confusion and delays involving school surveillance video that captures the shooting scene. Authorities initially had difficulty locating the surveillance footage, which Peterson is believed to have access to. Once they received it, police mistakenly believed that Cruz was still in the school building, because they were not informed the footage they were viewing was on a 20 minute delay.
“It added to some confusion … because the officers that are in the school trying to find him were given inaccurate information, unintentionally, it’s just miscommunication, but that 20-minute delay did cause some confusion,” Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi told WTVJ.
At Thursday’s press conference, Sheriff Israel announced the two additional sheriff’s deputies, who were not identified, will be placed on restricted duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation involving 23 police calls and reports made about Nikolas Cruz and his older brother since 2008.
[Feature image: Associated Press]