When the gunshots began ringing out across Stoneman Douglas High School’s campus on Feb. 14, there was an armed school resource deputy on the premises. But according to the county sheriff, deputy Scott Peterson never actually entered the building to look for the shooter.
“I want to clarify any rumors, stories, or conjecture that are out there,” Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters in a press conference Thursday afternoon. “Scott Peterson was absolutely on campus for this entire event.”
While the country reels over the 17 lives lost and 14 people injured in the Valentine’s Day massacre in Parkland, Florida, last week, some have asked why Peterson wasn’t able to do more to stop the teen gunman, a former student who arrived on campus armed with an AR-15 and was reportedly recognized by a school employee, who radioed in an alert.
“He was armed. He was in uniform,” Israel said of Peterson. But, “after seeing video, hearing witness statements and Scott Peterson’s very own statement, I decided this morning to suspend Scott Peterson without pay pending an internal investigation.”
Because Peterson had spent the necessary time with the Broward County Sheriff’s Department to meet the retirement requirements, Israel explained, he was able to submit his resignation and retire altogether.
“We’re not going to disclose the video at this time,” said Israel. “And we may never disclose the video depending on the prosecution and the criminal case. But what I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of Building 12, take up a position. And he never went in.”
Israel had previously said that, to the best of his knowledge, Peterson and the two other deputies who later arrived on the scene followed active shooter protocol and did not wait for a SWAT team to arrive. “You don’t wait for SWAT; you get in, and you push toward the shooter,” Israel said Wednesday.
The two other deputies have been placed on restricted duty, Israel said.