“I’m No Coward” Claims Deputy Who Refused To Confront Parkland School Shooter
The Broward County Deputy who has been roundly criticized since Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed last week that he didn’t confront Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz has released his first public statement – and its contents are hardly surprising.
The deputy insisted he isn’t a coward and that he didn’t initially believe that gunfire was happening inside the building, according to local media reports.
Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson, in a statement released through his lawyer Monday, said his actions during the Valentine’s Day massacre “were appropriate under the circumstances.”
Peterson “heard gunshots but believed those gunshots were originating from outside of the buildings on the school campus,” according to the release. “BSO trains its officers that in the event of outdoor gunfire one is to seek cover and assess the situation in order to communicate what one observes with other law enforcement.”
“Allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue,” according to the statement sent from the office of Fort Lauderdale attorney Joseph DiRuzzo.
The statement comes four days after Israel singled out Deputy Scot Peterson for failing to engage Cruz. The deputy, Israel said, waited outside for four full minutes while Cruz massacred students inside.
“I am devastated. Sick to my stomach. He never went in,” Israel said at the time. Hours before the press conference, Peterson was suspended without pay, effectively forcing him to retire. promptly retired. Peterson, a 32-year veteran, was named school resource officer of the year in Parkland four years ago.
Deputy Scot Peterson, shown speaking in 2015…
In the statement, Peterson claimed he took up a position outside Building 12 after rushing over to respond to a report of firecrackers. He said that he was the first BSO deputy to dispatch on the radio that shots were being fired. He also claimed that he told a first-arriving Coral Springs officer that he “thought that the shots were coming from outside.
“Radio transmissions indicated that there were a gunshot victim in the area of the football field, which served to confirm Mr. Peterson’s belief that the shooter, or shooters, were outside,” according to the lawyer.
Peterson added that he had “the presence of mind” to have school officials locate the shooter using closed-circuit TV cameras.
“Sheriff Israel’s statement is, at best, a gross oversimplification of the events that transported,” the statement said.
The lawyer also criticized Israel for prematurely singling out Peterson, adding that the public should wait to see the results of the investigation.