Newly released audio from the February 14 school shooting at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School appears to contradict a former deputy’s claim that he believed the school shooter was outside.
The Miami Herald has obtained recordings of radio dispatches from the scene of the deadly mass shooting, in which School Resource Deputy Scot Peterson can be heard saying that the shooter — now suspected to be 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz — is inside the 1200 building (also known as Building 12) on the campus. Peterson also appears to warn others not to come into the building, although it is the policy of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO) to engage with an active shooter until the threat is eliminated.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Peterson retired from the BSO after a review of events found that he never entered the building where Cruz opened fire, ultimately killing 17 people. The revelation meant that he would be suspended without pay during the investigation, and Peterson opted to exit his position.
BSO Sheriff Scott Israel was critical of Peterson’s inaction during a press conference announcing the School Resource Deputy’s retirement, saying he was “devastated — sick to my stomach” to learn that the deputy assigned to protect the high school never entered the building where Cruz was gunning down students and teachers.
In a subsequent statement issued through his lawyer, Peterson defended his actions, saying he believed based on radio transmissions that the shooter was outside, possibly on the football field.
The dispatch recordings do make repeated references to the football field, though in one case a person says that students are fleeing onto the field. And Peterson refers to a shooter at the building.
“Be advised we have possible, could be firecrackers, I think we have shots fired, possible shots fire — 1200 building,” Peterson says. When he is believed to be directly outside the building, he is heard telling a dispatcher, “I hear shots fired.”
Peterson can also be heard warning other responders to stay away from building where the shooting took place.
“Make sure nobody comes inside the school,” he is heard saying, after requesting a lockdown.
“Do not approach the 12 or 1300 building, stay at least 500 feet away.”
Jeff Bell, the president of BSO’s police union, told the Miami Herald that the dispatches seem to confirm the presumption that Peterson never went inside the school.
“It certainly backs up that he never went into the school,” Bell said.
“At one point he says to keep back 500 feet. Why would he say that?”
The recordings indicate that Peterson directed other officers to stay outside the building. As CrimeOnline previously reported, members of the Coral Springs Police Department, which also responded to the scene, claimed they arrived to find at least three Broward County deputies outside of the building, standing near their squad cars.
Following that report, CrimeOnline contacted BSO for confirmation and further clarification, but a representative declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.
Peterson’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Palm Beach Post.
[Feature image: Associated Press]