(TMU) — A police officer who hid for nearly an hour at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last year while a horrible shooting took place just feet away, has been arrested for his negligence during the shooting.
Former Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson was arrested this week and charged with seven counts of child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence, and one count of perjury.
Peterson was the sole school resource officer on duty at the time of the shooting that day but did nothing to intervene in the attack. Seventeen people died and 17 more were injured in the shooting that may have been prevented, investigators believe, if Peterson had intervened.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Commissioner Rick Swearingen told reporters that Peterson “did absolutely nothing” to help save the children whose lives were in danger that day despite having been tasked with their protection.
“There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives,” Swearingen said in a statement.
The arrest comes just days after Peterson was fired by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office for “neglecting his duty.” Another officer was also reportedly fired along with Peterson, but it remains unclear whether or not that officer will also be facing charges.
Sheriff Gregory Tony, the commanding officer who fired Peterson, said, “We cannot fulfill our commitment to always protect the security and safety of our Broward County community without doing a thorough assessment of what went wrong that day.”
In the extensive 458 page report released by investigators this week, Peterson is also accused of lying and giving false statements when he was questioned about the incident.
“Peterson was in a position to engage Cruz and mitigate further harm to others, and he willfully decided not to do so,” the report stated.
Fred Guttenberg, a parent of one of the children who were killed in the shooting, tweeted that he hopes Peterson “rots in hell.”
I have no comment except to say rot in hell Scott Petersen. You could have saved some of the 17. You could have saved my daughter. You did not and then you lied about it and you deserve the misery coming your way.https://t.co/FIxpOHDEVA
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) June 4, 2019
US President Donald Trump even called officer Peterson a “coward” after the shooting. Trump told reporters:
“He trained his whole life. When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn’t have the courage or something happened, but he certainly did a poor job, there’s no question about that. He was there for five minutes, for five minutes that was during the entire shooting. He heard it right at the beginning, so he certainly did a poor job. That’s a case where somebody was outside. They’re trained. They didn’t react properly under pressure or they were a coward.”
While Peterson was the first line of defense for the children in the school that day, he was not the only officer who was criticized for failing to intervene. In fact, three other officers were taking cover instead of trying to help during the deadly ordeal. All officers who hid were apparently from the Broward County Sheriff’s office, having been the first to arrive on the scene.
The officers apparently waited for reinforcements before doing anything, but according to officers with the Coral Springs Police Department, the officers from Broward County remained outside and did not immediately follow them to apprehend the suspect.
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