THE ARMED OFFICER on duty at the Florida school where a shooter killed 17 people never went inside to engage the gunman and has been placed under investigation, officials announced last night.
The Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by a gunman armed with an AR-15 style assault rifle has reignited national debate over gun laws and school safety, including proposals by President Donald Trump and others to designate more people — including trained teachers — to carry arms on school grounds. Gun-control advocates, meanwhile, have redoubled their push to ban assault rifles.
The school resource officer at the high school took up a position viewing the western entrance of the building that was under attack for more than four minutes, but “he never went in,” Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference. The shooting lasted about six minutes.
The officer, Scot Peterson, was suspended without pay and placed under investigation, then chose to resign, Israel said. When asked what Peterson should have done, Israel said the deputy should have “went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer”.
A telephone message left at a listing for Peterson by The Associated Press wasn’t immediately returned. An AP reporter who later went to Peterson’s home in a suburb of West Palm Beach saw lights on and cars in the driveway, but no one answered the door when AP attempted to get further comment.
The sheriff said he was “devastated, sick to my stomach. There are no words. I mean, these families lost their children. …. I’ve been to the funerals. … I’ve been to the vigils. It’s just, ah, there are no words.”
There was also a communication issue between the person reviewing the school’s security system footage and officers who responded to the school.
Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi said that the footage being reviewed was 20 minutes old, so the responding officers were hearing that the shooter was in a certain place while officers already in that location were saying that wasn’t the case.
“There was nothing wrong with their equipment. Their equipment works,” Pustizzi said. “It’s just that when the person was reviewing the tape from 20 minutes earlier, somehow that wasn’t communicated to the officers that it was a 20-minute delay.”
Pustizzi said the confusion didn’t put anyone in danger.
Shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been jailed on 17 counts of murder and has admitted the attack. He owned a collection of weapons. Defense attorneys, state records and people who knew him indicate that he displayed behavioral troubles for years.