School Climate & Safety

Parkland School Officer Took Position, But Didn’t Enter Building During Shooting, Sheriff Says

By Evie Blad — February 22, 2018 1 min read
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The armed Broward County sheriff’s deputy assigned to the campus of Stoneman Douglas High School took position outside of the freshman building during the mass shooting there last week, but a security video shows he never entered the building to try to stop the gunman, Sheriff Scott Israel said Thursday.

Israel suspended the Deputy Scot Peterson without pay pending an investigation, he said. The deputy opted instead to retire.

Seventeen people died when a former student entered the building, opening fire with an AR-15. Fifteen more were injured.

“I’m devastated, sick to my stomach. There are no words,” Israel said of the conclusion that the deputy had failed to act. He said the deputy “clearly” knew a shooting was going on.

The school-based deputy remained outside of the building for “upwards of four minutes,” Israel said. The shooting lasted six minutes.

“What I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of building 12, take up a position, and he never went in,” Israel said, describing footage he reviewed from outside of the freshman building.

Israel also reviewed witness statements and statements by Peterson himself, he said.

The sheriff also restricted the responsibilities of two other deputies Thursday pending a review of how they’d investigated previous tips about the suspected gunman, former student Nikolas Cruz. Officers had received more than 20 calls about Cruz in recent years, Israel said.

The revelation that the school deputy failed to act during the shooting added to a list of possible missed opportunities to intervene.

The FBI said on Friday that it had failed to properly investigate a January tip from someone close to Cruz, who said he was concerned about his “disturbing social media posts” and “desire to kill people.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.