My first question after the horrific mass murder at the Parkland, Florida high school was “where was the resource officer?”
Since there was nothing being reported about the resource officer, I assumed the school didn’t have one or if they did, he wasn’t present during the incident.
For those who may not know what a resource officer is, he or she is a police officer, typically a deputy sheriff, assigned to high schools. Their duty station is the school.
It has now come to light that the school did, in fact, have a resource officer. His name is Scot Peterson, who was armed and present during the shooting. It appears he ran and hid from the shooter.
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From the press conference by Sheriff Israel, Peterson was apparently in the school when the shooting started, then left the building and stayed outside while the killer was executing teenagers inside.
This incomprehensible level of cowardice cost children their lives. The parents of the students killed are reported as outraged and Peterson’s house is under armed guard by the Sheriff’s Department.
From the Sun Sentinel
The police officer assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School resigned Thursday, under investigation for failing to enter the building as a gunman opened fire and killed 17 people.
Sheriff Scott Israel said Deputy Scot Peterson should have “went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.” Video footage showed Peterson did none of that, Israel said.
The sheriff’s office also said Thursday that two deputies were put under investigation for how they handled potential warnings about Cruz, including one from November in which a caller said Nikolas Cruz “could be a school shooter in the making.”
Peterson, 54, came under scrutiny after 19-year-old Cruz entered a school building with an AR-15 rifle and killed 14 students and three educators on Valentine’s Day. Cruz later confessed, police said.
The sheriff said video shows Peterson was outside the building for “upwards of four minutes” while students were gunned down inside.
“What I saw was a deputy arrive … take up a position and he never went in,” the sheriff said at a news conference. “There are no words. I mean these families lost their children. We lost coaches,” Israel said.
Peterson resigned, and subsequently retired, at 12:37 p.m. Thursday after he was suspended without pay earlier in the day, Israel said. An investigation into what happened will continue.
Peterson’s resignation ends a more than three-decade career with the agency, where he was often regarded by peers as a dependable employee who could communicate well with both staff and students.
The 6-foot-5-inch native of Illinois started with the agency in July 1985, after studying at Miami-Dade Community College and Florida International University, according to records released Thursday by the sheriff’s office.
Peterson had been a school resource officer at Stoneman Douglas since 2009. He was considered a trusted officer who “values his position and takes pride in protecting the students, faculty and staff at his school,” a 2017 performance review said.
His annual salary in 2016 was $75,673.72, according to sheriff’s office records, but he made $101,013 that year with overtime and other compensation. Peterson has been the subject of two internal investigations, neither of which resulted in significant discipline.
Soon after the shooting took place, Israel and Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie were forced to answer questions about where Peterson wasduring the shooting and why he did not confront Cruz.
“I’m in shock and I’m outraged to no end that he could have made a difference in all this,” Runcie said Thursday. “It’s really disturbing that we had a law enforcement individual there specifically for this reason, and he did not engage. He did not do his job. It’s one of the most unbelievable things I’ve ever heard.”
Stoneman Douglas student Brandon Huff, 18, a senior, said he had seen Peterson standing outside the building and talking on his radio during the shooting.
Huff said he first learned of the shooting in a text message from his girlfriend, who said she was hiding in a corner and shots rang out.
“Two coaches went in and were shielding kids and throwing themselves in front of bullets and he did nothing.”