- Reuters/Thomas Baur
- The armed school resource officer who was on campus during last month’s high-school shooting in Florida radioed that the gunfire was coming from inside the building, dispatch records show.
- Those records appear to contradict a statement given by the deputy’s lawyer, who said the deputy believed the gunfire was coming from outdoors.
- The deputy, Scot Peterson, resigned last month after the Broward County sheriff said Peterson did “nothing” to stop the shooting.
The armed deputy who did not engage the gunman during the shooting at a Florida high school last month apparently heard the gunfire coming from inside the building, contradicting an earlier defense his lawyer gave to media.
Scot Peterson, a school resource officer, resigned in disgrace roughly a week after the shooting. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson did “nothing” to stop the gunman and instead stayed outside the building for several minutes during the attack, which left 17 people dead.
Peterson’s lawyer, Joseph DiRuzzo, said in a February 26 statement that Peterson’s actions were falsely portrayed and his character unfairly smeared.
DiRuzzo said Peterson believed the gunfire was occurring outdoors and responded by seeking cover and assessing the situation, as the Broward County Sheriff’s Office requires.
“The allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and that his performance, the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue,” DiRuzzo said. “Mr. Peterson is confident that his actions on that day were appropriate under the circumstances and that the video (together with the eyewitness testimony of those on the scene) will exonerate him of any subpar performance.”
But internal radio dispatches released Thursday by the Broward Sheriff’s Office appear to tell a different story.
“Be advised we have possible, could be firecrackers. I think we have shots fired, possible shots fired – 1200 building,” Peterson radioed at 2:23 p.m., roughly two minutes after the gunfire broke out, according to the records.
“All right … We also heard it’s by, inside the 1200,” Peterson again radioed at 2:25 p.m.
Yet as the gunfire continued and the situation grew more chaotic with students fleeing the school and flooding 911 dispatchers with calls, Peterson never entered the building.
Beyond, that, the dispatch records show that Peterson warned other officers to stay away.
“Stay at least 500 feet away at this point,” Peterson radioed at 2:27 p.m., just seconds after the gunfire stopped. The suspect, Nikolas Cruz, 19, was arrested about an hour later; authorities have said he fled the school while blending in with students.
The timeline put together by local authorities shows that no law-enforcement officers entered the building until 2:32 p.m., 11 minutes after the gunfire broke out.