Scot Peterson, the Florida police officer assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting last week, has resigned amid an investigation into his actions during the massacre.
Peterson, 54, resigned Thursday from Broward County Sheriff’s Office, the Sun Sentinel reported, as it emerged that although he was the only armed deputy on campus during the shooting, he had done nothing.
Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson’s decision to take cover during the shooting had left him feeling sick to his stomach. The deputy reportedly waited outside for “upwards of four minutes” while students and their teachers died inside.
“He never went in,” Israel said in a news conference. He said Peterson should have: “Went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.” Video footage from the scene has shown, however, that the deputy did none of those things, Israel said. “There are no words,” he added.
Florida law enforcement has come under increased scrutiny after former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 14 students and three educators on February 14.
Two other deputies were placed on restricted duty Thursday because they may have mishandled earlier tips to the Sheriff’s Office regarding Cruz, the New York Times reported.
Peterson’s resignation and subsequent retirement end his 30-year career in law enforcement. Originally from Illinois, he had served as school resource officer at Stoneman Douglas since 2009. A 2017 performance review shows he was a trusted officer who “takes pride in protecting the students, faculty, and staff at his school.”
Broward Schools Superintendent has lambasted Peterson over his reaction to the shooting. “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 said.
However, a ninth-grade English teacher Felicia Burgin has said she believes the criticism is unfair. “There is no one that is going to tell you a negative thing about Deputy Peterson,” she said, explaining the officer wouldn’t have stood a chance against Cruz, who was armed with an AR-15 rifle.
“I don’t know what he could have done other than literally died,” Burgin added.
According to the New York Post Peterson reportedly believed he did his duty. “He believed he did a good job calling in the location, setting up the perimeter and calling in the description,” local police union official, Jim Bell said.