President Donald Trump suggested that the armed school resource officer who was present on Stoneman Douglas High School’s campus during last week’s mass shooting was a “coward.”
“He certainly did a poor job. But that’s the case where somebody’s outside, they’re trained, they didn’t react properly under pressure or they were a coward,” Trump said Friday morning at the White House as he prepared to leave for the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.
Trump said the officer lacked “courage,” and that the shooting should have been prevented.
Broward County sheriff’s deputy Scott Peterson was outside the south Florida school building when the shooting started, according to Sheriff Scott Israel, citing video evidence that Peterson remained outside for four minutes. The shooting spree, which left 17 dead-- mostly students-- lasted an estimated six minutes, Israel said.
“When it came time to go 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.
The comments come amid an intensifying national debate over preventing mass shootings at schools. Earlier this week at a White House listening session with survivors and families from Parkland, Trump suggested that arming teachers would be an effective way to stop school shooters.
Peterson resigned Friday after an investigation of his handling of the shooting; he’d originally been suspended without pay. It's not clear if Peterson will face any criminal charges.
In the wake of the massacre, Sheriff Israel has ordered his school deputies to carry rifles on school campuses.