After a 14-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Broward State Attorney’s Office, former Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson was arrested and fired Tuesday on multiple felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from his inaction during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.
Peterson, 56, earned the nickname “the Coward of Broward” after failing to engage the deranged former student who gunned down and killed 17 students and staff at the Parkland, Florida school.
Peterson was booked into the Broward Main Jail on eleven criminal charges, “including child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury,” according to the Sun Sentinel.
The investigation found that Peterson, the school resource officer, “refused to investigate where the gunshots were coming from, retreated during the gunfire as victims were being shot, and directed other law enforcement who arrived on scene to remain 500 feet away from the building,” FDLE spokeswoman Jessica Cary told the Sentinel in an emailed statement.
The investigation included 184 witness interviews, review of countless hours of video surveillance and resulted in 212 investigative reports and more than 800 hours of investigation, Cary said.
Surveillance video from outside the school shows the armed Peterson, hanging outside the building during the shooting.
Peterson told investigators that he only heard two or three shots and he wasn’t sure where they were coming from, but according to the lead detective on the case, the rounds being fired were loud and people were screaming inside the building. Peterson stayed on the south side of the building for 48 minutes according to CBS Miami.
Fred Guttenberg’s daughter Jamie was the second to last person to be shot by the gunman.
“If you see how close she was to the stairwell–one more second–she’s in the stairwell and she’s alive!” Guttenberg told CBS Miami in January. “She needed one more second. That’s all my kid needed!” he added plaintively. “And Peterson didn’t give her that second!”
“The FDLE investigation shows former Deputy Peterson did absolutely nothing to mitigate the MSD shooting that killed 17 children, teachers and staff and injured 17 others,” FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said in a statement. “There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives.”
The FDLE’s arrest announcement said “Peterson was the school resource officer at MSD High School during the school shooting. The investigation shows Peterson refused to investigate the source of gunshots, retreated during the active shooting while victims were being shot and directed other law enforcement who arrived on scene to remain 500 feet away from the building.”
Another officer that was on the scene, Sgt. Brian Miller, was also fired following the investigation.
“[Peterson and Miller] were found to have neglected their duties at MSD High School,” Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said in an emailed statement to the Sentinel.
“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,” Tony said. “I am committed to address deficiencies and improving the Broward Sheriff’s Office.”
Peterson is facing a maximum of nearly 97 years in state prison if convicted as charged. His bond was set at $102,000.