Speed Reads

parkland school shooting

Deputy who did not enter Florida school during mass shooting says he was following protocol

An attorney for the resource officer on duty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 said the officer was following protocol when he didn't run into the building as a gunman opened fire, killing 17, and has been unfairly criticized and labeled "a coward."

Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson resigned last week, after being blasted by Sheriff Scott Israel for staying outside the building for about 4 minutes while the shooter made his way through the hallways. His attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo III, pushed back, saying "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."

Peterson believed the shooting was happening away from the school, DiRuzzo said, and he followed protocol by taking up a "tactical position" outside the building and initiating a Code Red lockdown. Peterson also had the "presence of mind" to have administrators review footage from closed-circuit cameras so they could find the shooter and give an accurate description to police. "It is our understanding that Sheriff Israel acknowledged that the investigation remains ongoing and that 'investigations will not be rushed or asked to jump to conclusions,'" DiRuzzo said. "We question why this statement would not also apply to Mr. Peterson."

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking into how all officers who responded to the incident acted, and DiRuzzo said Peterson will fully cooperate with the investigation.