Headlines Thursday night were dominated by a shocking admission. The deputy tasked with guarding Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the day of the tragic shooting never entered the building where the shooter murdered 17 people. Instead, the cowardly officer, who was both armed and in uniform, hid.
By Friday morning, the officer had been labeled “The Coward of Broward County.” The one man who had sworn to protect and serve protected and served himself, and left unarmed teachers and students to respond to a mad man with an AR-15.
His fellow officers aren’t taking the news too well, either. One comment on the America Hell Yeah Facebook page captured the reaction of the deputy’s peers:
“I’m a Patrol Officer,” an officer from Louisiana commented, “and if I had been there Someone would have gotten their ass whipped! Dam Coward! I don’t wanna die either But Dam It, Ive made my peace with God and Accepted that I may die in the line of Duty. I’ve lived a good life, those kids have their whole live ahead of them… If your not prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to save a life or lives turn your Badge and Equipment in and Get a normal job!”
The deputy in the crosshairs has since resigned. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel had suspended the officer, identified as Scot Peterson, without pay while the investigation was underway, but Peterson chose to resign. As news of the man’s cowardice spread, he was placed under police protection. The irony is not lost on anyone.
Even President Trump has offered his opinion. “What he did, he’s trained his whole life…When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn’t have the courage or something happened,’ Trump said. “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. But that’s a case where, somebody who was outside, they’re trained, they didn’t react properly under pressure or they were a coward. It was a real shot to the police department.”
It was also a “real shot” to the children and teachers inside the school.
“Scot Peterson was absolutely on campus through this entire event,” said Israel during a news conference. “He was armed. He was in uniform.”
“After seeing video, witness statements and Scot Peterson’s very own statement, I decided this morning to suspend [him] without pay pending an internal investigation,” Israel stated.
According to The Hill, Israel confirmed that Peterson had chosen to resign, as he had the necessary requirements to retire. However, Israel did note that the investigation into the incident would continue.
“We’re not going to disclose the video at this time, and we may never disclose the video, depending on the prosecution and the criminal case,” said Israel. “But what I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of building 12, take up a position – and he never went in.”
A reporter at the press conference asked Israel what Peterson should have done, to which he replied, “Went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer.”
Israel stated that the video he saw left him “devastated” and made him “sick to [his] stomach.”
“There are no words,” he added.
Last week, a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and opened fire on students and faculty members. In total, 17 people were killed by the alleged shooter, identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student of the school.
After the mass shooting, the debate over gun control was reignited as survivors and others called on Congress and other lawmakers to take action.
Recently, President Donald Trump has expressed support for certain possible measures, including a ban on bump stocks, improvements to the federal background check system, and raising the minimum age to purchase specific firearms.
Trump has also discussed allowing trained teachers to carry concealed firearms on school grounds as a means of deterring potential shooters.
JUST IN: Broward Sheriff says armed school resource deputy who was on duty at Stoneman Douglas the day of the shooting has been suspended without pay pending investigation; Sheriff Israel says the deputy opted to resign/retire. https://t.co/WyLmaDb2n0 pic.twitter.com/ApSeQbZV70
— ABC News (@ABC) February 22, 2018