Former sheriff’s deputy, school resource officer criticized for response during the Parkland shooting faces felony charges
Former Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson — who was criticized for how he responded when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — has been charged with 11 counts, including felony child neglect charges, authorities said.
Peterson retired after the February 2018 massacre at the Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 people dead, and is collecting a pension. He was fired Tuesday at a disciplinary hearing by new Sheriff Gregory Tony.
The firing could affect Peterson’s retirement pay, Tony said.
Peterson, who was a school resource officer, is facing charges of child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury in connection with the deadly shooting, according to a release from the State Attorney’s Office.
Days after the February 14 massacre, footage surfaced of Peterson taking position outside the 1200 building of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School instead of entering the building where a gunman was firing at students and staff.
Also fired was Sgt. Brian Miller, a supervisor on the day of the shooting, the sheriff’s office said.
Peterson was booked into Broward County Jail, the state’s attorney said, and his bail will be set at $102,000.
CNN is reaching out to Peterson for comment.
In past interviews, Scot Peterson’s lawyer, Joseph DiRuzzo III, has said it’s a “gross over-simplification” to characterize Peterson’s actions as cowardly, and said Peterson believed the gunshots were coming from outside the building.
With more than 30 years on the job, Peterson’s personnel file shows an exemplary record — with two nominations for School Resource Deputy of the year.
The father of a girl who was killed applauded the charges.
“Peterson failed in his duty to protect lives that day, standing behind a cement pillar for 48 minutes while students and teachers were slaughtered,” Alaina Petty’s father, Ryan, said. “After a year of in-depth investigation, I am pleased that the (state authorities) have brought formal charges against former deputy Scot Peterson.”
The father of Jaime Guttenberg said Peterson could have saved lives.
“I have no comment except to say rot in hell, Scot Peterson,” Fred Guttenberg said. “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.”
The president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, Jeff Bell, told CNN by email that he had several concerns about Peterson’s charges, particularly the neglect and negligence charges.
“In order for there to be neglect, the individual must be a ‘care taker’ of the individual,” Bell wrote. “Does that mean that every police officer from now on that works a detail where children are present are now subjected to child neglect charges if something happens?”
He said the union does not consider Peterson a coward.
Bell said the union will fight Miller’s dismissal.
The gunman, a former student, is charged with 17 counts of first-degree premeditated murder and 17 counts of first-degree attempted murder.