‘Coward of Broward’ Sheriff’s Deputy Says He ‘Did Nothing Wrong’ During Parkland Shooting

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Students mourn during a candlelight vigil for victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., February 15, 2018. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Disgraced former Broward County sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson, who failed to act to stop the shooter who killed 17 at Parkland, Fla.’s Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School last year, struck a defiant stance in a recent report he sent to a state commission studying the tragedy, saying that he believes he did nothing wrong.

Peterson, who was nicknamed the “coward of Broward” after he failed to enter the building where a former student was gunning down victims with an AR-15 rifle, said in the 14-page report that he has been made a “personal and political scapegoat” for the events of that Valentine’s day.

Peterson was caught on surveillance footage hiding outside the building during the shooting. He claimed he thought the shots were coming from outside and took a “tactical position,” an explanation contradicted by one of the first radio calls he made, in which he said, “Possible shots fired. 1200 building.” He also failed to call a Code Red, which was called for the first time by someone else minutes later.

“My law enforcement actions during the horrific school shooting on February 14, 2018, were consistent with my training and based on my ‘real-time intelligence’ on the scene,” he wrote to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. “I was not given any information whatsoever by BSO communications regarding the location or description of the shooter(s) . . . or that there were any victim(s) inside the 1200 building.”

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Peterson blamed Broward County sheriff Scott Israel for the criticism directed at him, saying Israel “made me his ‘personal and political scapegoat’ to take the ‘onus’ off of himself and place the blame on me for the massacre at my school.”

Seven other deputies were also branded cowards after they carried out a haphazard response in the minutes immediately after the shooting started, when surveillance footage showed they hid outside the school building. However, the disfunction at the Broward Sheriff’s Office permeated deeper than a few deputies. Asked when the last time they had participated in active-shooter training was, Broward deputies could not remember, not even whether it was in the past ten or 20 years.

Peterson retired from the department amid the backlash, and now receives an $8,700 monthly pension.

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