On March 15, 2018, Breitbart News reported on surveillance video that allegedly shows Peterson standing outside building 12 while the attack occurred.
Then-Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told ABC News the video showed Peterson “arrive at the west side of Building 12, take a position” but never go in.
Seventeen innocents lost their lives during the attack.
On June 4, 2018, Breitbart News reported Peterson telling CBS News he would enter the building “in a heartbeat” if given the chance to do it again.
WPLG reports that Peterson is now under arrest.
— WPLG Local 10 News (@WPLGLocal10) June 4, 2019
NBC News investigative reporter Tom Winters reports that “the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has charged former Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson, age 56, with 7 counts of neglect of a child, 3 counts of culpable negligence, and 1 count of perjury.”
The investigation into Peterson’s response concluded that the career lawman “did absolutely nothing” to stop a gunman from walking onto the South Florida campus and opening fire, 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,” Swearingen said.
Peterson’s arrest came after an administrative discipline hearing Tuesday at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, where Sheriff Gregory Tony fired Peterson and another deputy for “neglecting their duty” in Parkland.
Peterson faces seven felony charges for child neglect on top of four misdemeanors.
“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 in a statement.
Peterson’s bail was set at $102,000, The Associated Press reported. Once released, Peterson will be required to wear a monitor and surrender his passport. He will be prohibited from possessing a gun.
Peterson’s lawyer, Joseph DiRuzzo, cast doubt on the state’s ability to prosecute his client.
The charges leveled against Peterson are “a thinly veiled attempt at politically motivated retribution,” DiRuzzo said in a statement, saying blame for the shooting falls squarely on Nikolas Cruz, who is facing murder charges in the case. “We will vigorously defend against these spurious charges that lack basis in fact and law.”
A 458-page report from the commission charged with investigating the Parkland shooting tore into Peterson for failing to confront the shooter and giving inaccurate statements to investigators afterward about what unfolded.
Peterson, a 32-year law enforcement veteran, spent 28 years of his career as a school deputy, including nine years at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Yet when a gunman came onto the campus on Feb. 14, 2018, Peterson was “derelict in his duty,” according to the Parkland report.
There is “overwhelming evidence” that Peterson heard gunshots, but no evidence that he attempted to investigate. Peterson instead chose to hide near a stairwell as shots rang out on the campus, the report found.
“Peterson was in a position to engage Cruz and mitigate further harm to others, and he willfully decided not to do so,” according to the report.
State agents interviewed 184 witnesses, reviewed video surveillance, and wrote 212 investigative reports on the case to gauge how law enforcement responded to the shooting, according to the FDLE.
News of Peterson’s arrest broke as the Parkland commission convened for its June meeting. Reactions poured in from parents online but commissioners didn’t comment on the deputy other than to announce his arrest.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime died during the shooting, told Peterson to “rot in hell.”
“You could have saved some of the 17,” Guttenburg tweeted. “You could have saved my daughter. You did not and then you lied about it and you deserve the misery coming your way.”
Former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel in November cast Peterson in a poor light, telling the Parkland commission that the deputy “could have trained for 10 years” but would never have been able to intervene during a school shooting.
Israel’s leadership and policies also were questioned after the massacre. Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Israel in January, a decision Israel has challenged.