Former Broward Sheriff's deputy Scot Peterson, 56, has been arrested and charged over his failure to act during the Valentine's Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.
Peterson, who was the armed school resource officer at the time, faces seven counts of neglect of a child, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury according to a Tuesday statement by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He was booked into the Broward County main jail, and could face up to 97 years in state prison if convicted, according to the Sun-Sentinel, which noted that his bond was reportedly set at $102,000.
CCTV footage from the Parkland, FL shooting shows Peterson approach the high school building in a golf cart as gunman Nikolas Cruz massacred 17 students and staff members. Peterson then hopped off, unholstered his gun, and ran behind a concrete wall for cover.
"The FDLE investigation shows former Deputy Peterson did absolutely nothing to mitigate the MSD shooting that killed 17 children, teachers and staff and injured 17 others," said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearington. "There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives."
Broward County's new Sheriff Gregory Tony added that Peterson's actions warranted "termination of employment and criminal charges.
According to the FDLE, Peterson refused to investigate the source of gunshots during the shooting and retreated while victims were being shot. Peterson also told law enforcement who had just arrived to remain 500 feet from the building.
The records appear to support Broward Sheriff Scott Israel’s contention that Peterson, a longtime school resource officer, should have entered Building 12 to engage Cruz and try to prevent deaths. They also appear to show that other deputies may have refrained from rushing into the school at the direction of Peterson and a Parkland captain. The response by the agency has been the subject of national scrutiny, and is currently under review by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. -Miami Herald
Peterson resigned before he could be fired. In May, he wrote a 14-page letter to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission insisting that he was simply following his training.
"I assessed the situation and acted accordingly to the real-time intelligence I assessed on the scene," wrote Peterson, adding that he was "in compliance with the Broward Sheriff’s Office Active Shooter Policy."