Parkland deputy who let kids die says he’s haunted by failure, but his story doesn’t add up

For Scot Peterson, the day of the Parkland school mass shooting is a “haunting” reminder that he cannot escape.

The former Florida sheriff’s deputy, who has been dubbed the “Coward of Broward” after he stayed outside  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the massacre, is reportedly haunted by his failure.

Image: screengrab

“It’s haunting,” Peterson said in a Washington Post report published Monday. “I’ve cut that day up a thousand ways with a million different what-if scenarios, but the bottom line is I was there to protect, and I lost 17.”

Peterson lost his job with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office after the February shooting that claimed the lives of 17 people, and is facing a lawsuit by by the family of one of the victims. He has spent the last few months reliving that day, according to the Washington Post.

Watching surveillance footage, reading witness statements and poring over pages of documents, Peterson has been reportedly hiding out in  his duplex trying to figure out what happened.

“There wasn’t even time to think,” Peterson remembered. “It just happened and I started reacting.”

Although the former school resource officer had been to conferences about shootings, led teachers through lock down trainings and had even participated in a class on confronting active shooters, Peterson apparently did not know what to do when confronted with the real thing.

He recalled the unfolding moments of the shooting as he remained outside the building where gunman Nikolas Cruz was firing at students and teachers, trying to figure out where the gunshot sounds were coming from while not exposing himself.

“I was scanning for the shooter, looking over the windows, the sidewalk, the rooftop. I thought maybe it was a sniper like in Las Vegas,” he said. “I just didn’t know.”

He only heard two shots – out of the more than 150 rounds that were reportedly fired.

“I couldn’t get him,” Peterson reportedly told his girlfriend that day. “It was my job, and I didn’t find him.”

Watching a computer animation of the crime scene on his computer, Peterson tried to answer his own questions.

“I was right outside. I could have come in over here,” he said, according to the Washington Post report. “I could have got him while he was reloading. If I’d just heard more shots, maybe I would have known where they were coming from.”

“It was all so fast,” he said. “I couldn’t piece it all together.”

“How can they keep saying I did nothing?” he remembered telling his girlfriend one morning. “I’m getting on the radio to call in the shooting. I’m locking down the school. I’m clearing kids out of the courtyard. They have the video and the call logs. The evidence is sitting right there.”

The 55-year-old, who is collecting a $100,000 yearly pension, broke his om-air silence in a two-part interview on NBC’s “Today Show” which is set to air on Tuesday. He would have “been in that building in a heartbeat” he said, knowing what he now knows.


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Frieda Powers


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