Armed Deputy Took Cover at Florida High School While Murderer Killed 17

Deputy Scot Peterson (Photo: Fox News)

Sometimes the solutions to complex problems are painfully simple.

As the days drag on following one of the deadliest school shootings in American history, the missteps and cowardice of local and federal law enforcement agents have begun to surface.

Topping the list is Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson, who took cover outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while inside a deranged young man took the lives of 17 people.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel revealed the news at a press conference yesterday. He told reporters that video surveillance shows the deputy hiding behind a concrete column on the west side of the school. The deputy hid for at least four minutes while the murderer shot students and educators for less than six.

“There are no words,” said Sheriff Israel, who described himself as “devastated, sick to my stomach.”

Israel suspended Deputy Peterson without pay, but the New York Times reports that Peterson submitted his retirement papers on Thursday after being with the department for more than 32 years.

While Peterson is the latest law enforcement agent to drop the ball in this tragedy, he is by no means the first.

Sheriff Israel, who hasn’t been shy about using his new national platform to call for more gun control, admitted that his office had received 23 calls about the gunman since 2008. He declined to provide additional details, but he’s placed two of his deputies on restricted duty for potentially mishandling two of the calls.

SEE ALSO: Florida Gov. Rick Scott Announces ‘Major Action Plan’ to Stop School Shootings

The FBI also received a tip last month from someone close to the murderer who claimed that the young man had talked about committing a school shooting. This tip came just a few months after another person informed the bureau about an online comment from the gunman in which he said he wanted to become “a professional school shooter.”

The bureau revealed last week that agents failed to follow up on either tip.

The failure of both federal and local law enforcement officials in this case reveals that even two decades after the Columbine attack, authorities still haven’t learned the simplest lesson about school shootings: the perpetrator almost always tips his hand.

As Sonny Bunch over at the Washington Free Beacon points out, classroom gunfire is just the final stage in a long string of troubling behavior. The foiled shooting last week in Washington State demonstrates that the best way to stop a school shooting is to intervene long before the murderer pulls the trigger.

The efficacy of banning AR-15s, on the other hand, is far from certain (not to mention unconstitutional). Perhaps American politicians should spend more time improving the strategies that work and less time debating the ones that don’t.

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at

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  • Dave April 7, 2020, 1:24 pm

    I was a cop for thirty years,and have been retired for 23 yrs.I think I can add some insight to this discussion,During my tenure on the force,I was in several shoot outs and other life threatning situations.It is impossible to say what each individual will do during those situations.Some individuals simply do no have the guts to take positive action under fire.These people have no business wearing the blue.The officer in this instance did not step up,and some of the people who are critical of him would have reacted the same.You never know till your in it. I was very fortunate in that I was able to respond and perform under fire and take out the bad guy,but I,m no hero.I just did my best given the circumstances. I thank God that I survived and was able to save the lives of some other people in the process. Suffice to say,that when these situations occur,any proactive action you take will be better than doing nothing at all. May the good lord give us the strength and determination to do what is necessary. GOD bless.

  • Dave May 7, 2018, 12:30 am

    That coward should have to walk between two lines of the victims families to pick up his retirement checks.

  • Benedict J. Straka Senior March 10, 2018, 10:48 am

    Here are three questions gun opposers need to answer. Q1. If guns are the problem, how do they select their victims?
    Q2. If guns are the problem how do they get to the scene of the crime? Q3. If guns are the problem, why are they not assigned a public defender?. Public Stupidity is obvious, a scape goat is needed so why not defame the NRA and honest gun owners who have yet to commit any crime?. Why prosecute those who failed to protect the public. Lets go back to March 31,1994 when president Bill Clinton signed tthe “GUN FREE SCHOOLS ACT OF 1994″. Many if not Most of the Mass Shooting have ocurred in these ” GUN FREE ZONES”. Where the public is prohibited from carrying a concealed weapon.
    “How can an individual who has a “CCW” be a problem? There is a lesson to be learned form this most recent shooting.
    And that lesson is this There is a lot of “LEARNED STUPIDITY” in the public sector, when the average person cannot
    determine what or where the problem lies, that area of the mind is filled with “learned stupidity”.

  • Robert March 9, 2018, 9:42 am

    He was a sworn deputy. He should have had the training and the maturity to engage the gunman. As I understand the kid was wearing a gas mask? Im sorry I would have took that threat out with a stack of school books. It doesn’t take a cop to stop a attrocity. It takes a American that is willing to do something to stop it. I fully support training and arming our qualified teachers. And any American that is realizing that we are our own best defense. Not all of us run towards the gunfire. But some of us do. And that is going to make a difference. I support our President and our constitution. And I want to see mass shootings dissapear….The only effective way to deter it is to prepare and train. This is called Deterrence. And it works.

  • Andrew N. March 4, 2018, 7:34 pm

    Why are all Officers placed at schools on the ROAD program? (Retired On Active Duty) If you want our kids protected, actually protected, don’t assign a guy just waiting on his retirement. Put a younger, more aggressive Officer in the schools, one who would actually go after the shooter instead of hiding. Hell, I’m an older Vet, and If I had a gun I would have gone in to try to help. Cowards should not be allowed to “Protect and to Serve”. If they are only going to “Protect and Serve” their own asses, kick ’em off the force.

    • Tom March 7, 2018, 5:13 pm


    • Andrew Ling December 11, 2020, 8:18 am

      Protecting our children requires competent law officers when non of the teachers are allowed to
      protect them under their care. I detest the stupidity of the “Gun-Free” doctrine. Criminals love these
      places. Perhaps there should be warning signs saying “Armed and Trained Citizens” instead.
      I am 70 years old and during my school years, there were no such fears. Times have changed and
      we must adopt ways to deal with it accordingly. I have been shooting and training since I was 13 years
      old and I am no sissy. Everyone person entrusted to protect our children must be sane and brave. Cop or not.

  • Gman March 3, 2018, 10:10 pm

    Pure cowardliness-
    Barney Fife has more balls than this guy.

  • Steve March 2, 2018, 2:35 pm

    This whole thing, along with other shootings, is beginning to look like they were allowed by the anti gun crowd, perhaps some LE and maybe even some of our government to do away with anyone owning guns. This police chief sure does seem to be a Democrat politician in the making, blame everything and anyone but yourself when things go bad. I went to a large local gun store today for some ammo, I have never seen that many people buying guns at one time anywhere, not even at a gun show.

  • gary March 2, 2018, 2:13 pm

    And another example of why the good guys should have guns… the government cannot be relied on to protect the citizens (or non-citizens).

  • Matt March 2, 2018, 1:16 pm

    The public has demanded kinder, gentler and passive law enforcement, now you got what you wanted. I remember last year two officers were praised for running from a knife yielding thug. Think about it if he went in going after a nut armed with an AR and killed the guy he would be a hero granted maybe a dead hero If his bullet missed and struck another kid he wouldn’t only be loosing his job but likely prosecuted, he will have to live with his decision.

  • Mac McCLUSKEY March 2, 2018, 10:46 am

    Who let this fool in the school and where was he hiding the obvious rifle.. not much difference from Sandy hook..
    Took that fool 20min to get in the school while the principle went to find the guard .. the pitiful thing is that the teachers there had been told told huddle the children up in a group like a covey of Quail.. thats supper stupid .. I just cant understand not making an effort to serve and protect..

  • Steven March 2, 2018, 9:51 am

    To the idiots that defend the Coward of Broward County, remember this, he put on a badge, he swore an oath to serve & protect the public.

    • Christopher Davis March 2, 2018, 10:36 am

      That pussy is real tough when he’s out giving citizens tickets for not coming to a complete stop. But when the bullets are flying, he’s hiding. Might as well transfer him to the meter maids.

    • captain March 2, 2018, 6:41 pm

      Wrong. “To protect and to serve,” is an advertising slogan devised by the Los Angeles police department circa 1955, which the media and Hollywood have portrayed as an actual binding commitment; it’s not.

      Read some legal decisions:
      Castle Rock v. Gonzales
      Warren v. District of Columbia

      The actual job of police is to “find/fabricate potential crimes, find/implicate someone/anyone to accuse, abuse, arrest, and hand over to the politically minded prosecutors, who will do everything in their power to reach a conviction, or more often coerce a “plea-bargain”, and then hand the poor sucker over to the increasingly privatized penal system FOR A PROFIT.” As usual, if you want to know the truth, follow the money and power trail.

      • Tex July 20, 2020, 3:30 pm

        Your opinion is like assholes, everyone has one and most of them stink, as does yours. Sounds like you’re still pissed about that citation you received for rolling a stop sign. Are there bad cops, prosecutors and shitty courts? Yes, there are and I’ve dealt with them to one extent or another. Do we have a problem with privatized prisons and a senseless need to provide a population for them? Yes. But to declare that all of law enforcement is in on the scam is to defame many, many good cops who work shitty hours, receive shitty pay and get very little respect simply because they are motivated to work for the good of their community illustrates your very one sided view of this problem. I’m sorry your cynicism runs so deep you fail to see the good that is done by our country’s law enforcement community. By the way….if I’d been on duty when you ran that stop sign most likely you would have received a verbal warning….unless you displayed your arrogant attitude toward people like me. Had you done that I would have written you a nice citation and told you “when you sign the citation, press hard because you’re making three copies”. Have a nice day and remember…’s a “stop” sign not a “slow down” sign.

  • John March 2, 2018, 9:37 am

    This will haunt this guy for the rest of his life, wondering how many kids he might of saved had he had the BALL’S to go in the building.And kids screaming to get rid of guns Scream for better protection, thats the real problem not the gun

  • archangel March 2, 2018, 9:26 am

    You either have it or you dont.
    I have known that ever since I was a private in the USMC, i would have confronted the bastard bare handed if i had to, and still will to this day.
    Now that I have a CCW, at least i don’t have to feel like i need to bare hand it!
    And a crack shot with a 1911 is more than a match for a punk with an AR-15 rifle!

  • Kimberpross March 2, 2018, 9:15 am

    Police carry firearms to protect themselves first, you and me next. 99% of police actions are after the fact, in response, not before something happens, many times not even before the act is over. No fault of theirs, just fact that police can’t be everywhere. So for the gun grabbers (I will call them progressive liberals) to push to eliminate any firearm and ultimately eliminate all firearms is simply a recipe for widespread anarchy, murder, etc. you name the crime.

  • Walt March 2, 2018, 9:07 am

    If you plan to throw the Deputy under the buss you need to get the facts right. He followed Department policy. If anyone is to blame it would be the crazy bastard shooter. While it is a tragedy it will never be undone. If we plan to make the schools safer we need to stop laying blame on everyone and everything and devote our energy to solutions.

    • Christopher Davis March 2, 2018, 10:40 am

      You mean to tell me that department policy is to sit back while the kids are actually being slaughtered, and wait for backup?
      Sounds like someone needs to take a closer look at that policy.

    • Christopher Davis March 2, 2018, 10:41 am

      I’m willing to bet that an armed teacher wouldn’t have “waited for backup”.

    • niko March 2, 2018, 1:55 pm

      This deputy was a piece of CRAP, department policy or not i would have been in there in a second. I could never stand by waiting for back up knowing kids are being shot and i know i if i did that it would haunt me for the rest of my life. Arm the teachers and staff !! There is no need to wait 3-8 minutes for help to arrive.

    • David March 2, 2018, 5:18 pm

      Wait for backup and assess the situaion was SOP until columbine…. since then (nearly 20 years) SOP is RUN TOWARDS THE GUNFIRE!!!!

  • Bayou Boys March 2, 2018, 8:52 am

    CALL IT WHAT IT IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! COWARDS, in they military they call it ” Court-Martial”

  • Luke March 2, 2018, 8:05 am

    Sheriff doesn’t think much of Scot Peterson. Wonder how long ago THAT relationship went south. Also, it’d be interesting to hear the rest of the story before all the judges, lawyers, court reporters and politicians benefit from this event. Until then, Peterson is just another headline for illiterate voters to beat on. I’m guessing we’ll never hear about him again unless there’s a book deal involved or another smarmy and repulsive Diane Sawyer interview.

    As to his approach to this event, I’d like to know the very first thing he did upon realizing the school was under attack and took cover. It seems he was slow, yes. But, did he get into the fight immediately upon arrival of backup? It doesn’t seem so. But, why not? We don’t really know his thought process and probably never will.

    Some law enforcement folk grow to depend upon ‘officer presence’ to define their job and become complacent. I could see that happening in a school setting. ‘Happens in courthouses once in a while when we hear about a hardened criminal taking out armed escorts (mostly women who look nice in a uniform with a gun but are easily overpowered).

    So, Peterson’s actions seem like cowardice. But, what would I do in that situation given the same training?

    • G.O.A. Patriot March 2, 2018, 10:41 am

      In fact there were four Broward county deputies taking cover OUTSIDE the building! Coral Springs policemen confirmed this when they arrived on scene and they were actually the first to enter the building. My brother in-law is a Broward EMT and first responder and actually had two kids in the school at the time and he confirmed this to me.

  • Infidel762X51 March 2, 2018, 7:47 am

    This is the second time the Broward Cowards waited outside until it was safe to go in. This is the same department that waited outside the Ft. Lauderdale baggage claim area until the shooting was over. Then the Orange county cowards waited hours outside the Pulse. This is what you get when you put liberal politicians in charge instead of officers who came up through the ranks and earned the position through merit and achievement.

  • Dwane March 2, 2018, 6:53 am

    Read Ann Coulter’s piece “The School To Mass Murder Pipeline” It will made you realize the loonie lefties are really sickos.

  • rifflicks March 2, 2018, 6:43 am

    MAYBE… of you experts defending this coward Peterson could explain the superior advantage that Cruz had using an AR-15 over a semiautomatic pistol in the close quarter fighting inside of a school.

    • G.O.A. Patriot March 2, 2018, 10:45 am

      Doesn’t matter what weapon you choose! A cowardly perpetrator goes into retreat when lead starts flying back at them! Even if it’s only a .22 pistol!!!

  • Larry March 2, 2018, 5:59 am

    I hope to hell they are not planning on draping the American Flag on this guy’s (or The Sheriff”s) Casket when he passes away. Maybe a flag similar to the ‘desecrated’ and disrespectful thin blue (gang) flag would be in order, only with an additional yellow stripe. A badge does not make any of them Heroes…which is a term used way to lightly and often these days.

  • Z March 2, 2018, 5:34 am

    First policy of Police is to protect themself !!! Check their rules !
    Second policy of Police is – if heavy gun fire occur – DO NOT engage – call superiors and wait for SWAT !!!
    Check that rule too.
    It’s all simply coverage of their a$$es and you bought that crop easily without a lube !
    Shame – but on YOU !

    • Zupglick March 2, 2018, 8:48 am

      Maybe its time to change their rules so that they can “Protect and Serve”.

  • Sean2 February 26, 2018, 4:51 am

    If nothing else, this brings up a basic question of: what is the sheriff’ department’s actual job. I am by no means a student of law or law-enforcement rules and regulations, but when I hear about deputies and the like coming on scene, they don’t go in alone normally. Granted it looks bad, but perhaps taking cover could be the “correct” action. As you said, gunman had a rifle with an unknown amount of ammunition, deputy had a pistol. Rifle > Pistol

    • Always the question March 2, 2018, 4:57 am

      What is “law-enforcement’s” job? That’s a really good question. We all know about firefighters who go into burning buildings even with all their gear to save people and die trying in some cases. They obviously try to mitigate the danger there, and there are probably some that die due to some firefighters who aren’t as courageous as others.

    • G.O.A. Patriot March 2, 2018, 10:49 am

      A past SCOTUS decision ruled that it is NOT law enforcements duty to protect the citizenry! They usually just come in after the fact and “investigate”. That also allows asshats with no balls and a rudimentary education in law enforcement to become cops. Just because he’s wearing a badge doesn’t mean he’s a REAL MAN!

  • Ron adams February 26, 2018, 4:23 am

    It would be hard to say what I would do with his experience.being a combat hardened viet nam vet although it has been 50years I’m sure I would have been in even without a weapon of choice.being special forces a knife would have been sufficient.but an elderly man having never killed before I am definetly not sure at should not make assumptions of false bravery ..

  • Bobs yer uncle February 25, 2018, 3:49 pm

    As an armchair keyboard warrior, my first thought is this guy wasn’t hired as a janitor or grounds keeper, he was a trained, armed, deputy, assigned to school security, who should have known every square inch of the property What would I have done? simple, I would have charged in an engaged or win the Darwin award trying. When people talk about AR rifles, I’m reminded of the FBI murders in the mid eighties, that was where agents knew armored car/bank robbers, robbed and killed people senselessly, the robbers were known to be heavily armed, automatic rifles,shotguns,44 mag pistols, the FBI unwisely chose to be armed with things like a 5 shot 38 air weight, 9mm, 12 gauge shot gun ,one agent had a rifle in the trunk of his car. My point is, if the weapon of choice in these shootings is an AR you need at least that or better and a plan to deploy it. Or do like a bunch of real A-hos I saw on TV the other night and blame the NRA, I sent them a check and you should too.

    • G.O.A. Patriot March 2, 2018, 10:57 am

      When a deranged kid in a gun free zone is shooting other kids up knowing there’s no guns to fire back, he does whatever he wants. If the coward cop would’ve fired even one shot back at him he would’ve sh!t his pants and either surrendered or ran like the coward he is!

    • William Jenkins March 2, 2018, 12:16 pm

      There is a huge difference in the cases. The two bank robbers that engaged the FBI were army ranger and 101st airborne veterans. Not an untrained kid with a gun.

      • Bobs yer uncle March 3, 2018, 3:46 pm

        William Jenkins

        You are correct, my point was that if LEO feels they are are out gunned by an adversary, why wouldn’t they have an equivalent weapon? The bank robbers were also known to kill persons that had complied, meaning any contact with them was likely going to be a shooting situation. Additionally because of the massive amount of publicity and details provided in the media each of these school shooters knows all the details of what his predecessor used.

  • Blue Dog February 24, 2018, 5:38 pm

    We cannot expect our law enforcement to keep track of every keyboard tough guy who ever threatened violence against an institution or group. Consider how many internet tough guys have threatened the NRA and their spokesmodel Dana Loesch, for instance. She routinely gets threatened with rape dozens if not hundreds of times a day by people that, I agree, should not have firearms nor access to them. But it would be unfeasible to investigate each of these threats, most of which are nothing short of hot air. The problem is that there is so much hot air out there that tracking it down from that end of the problem is too much, particularly for those who are already suspicious of large national law-enforcement agencies, and the better solution comes from the supply side, controlling access to weapons of war to keep them out of our schools and from being used against our children.
    I cannot fault this Scot Peterson for his very human foible of not wanting to run into the gunfire. It sounds like his days as a peace officer are behind him even if he is not yet retired. I don’t know how I would react in that situation but I find it easy to think that I might hide behind something solid too.

    • BOhio March 2, 2018, 9:11 am

      “the better solution comes from the supply side, controlling access to weapons of war to keep them out of our schools and from being used against our children.
      I cannot fault this Scot Peterson for his very human foible of not wanting to run into the gunfire. It sounds like his days as a peace officer are behind him even if he is not yet retired. I don’t know how I would react in that situation but I find it easy to think that I might hide behind something solid too.”

      So you would cower rather than rush in to try to save somebody’s children from being slaughtered.You are an embarrassment, and should be banned from posting on this forum. And your ban should be lifetime for using the pathetic “weapons of war” phrase.

    • phil March 3, 2018, 2:50 am

      We will never know what Peterson’s reason for being at the school was that day, was it possibly a tip this might happen, I hope not as if it was tip related why was he not with another officer, but if on official duty I have never heard of any police officer being told to stand down when shots are fired in a situation like this. Anyone who blames the AR used in this shooting has no idea what this kid had going on in his mind, he could have driven his car through the parking lot and killed that morning and perhaps Peterson could have been there to issue him a citation but to hide behind the idea he “was told” not to engage is as cowardly as not saving children’s lives. He must live with this and to provide sympathy to him, you are not any more a man than he is. Some police officers want to be officers when the deck is stacked in their favor and to hide behind the ” I was told not to” story when not, well the bottom line is his career is over, how many children will be murdered to rid the rest of the force of the rest of the cowards wearing a badge, and please don’t say I call all officers a coward, I don’t have any idea about that, I can confirm only one. I never ever heard of a man letting anyone kill innocent children……and no, the AR didn’t do this, but one in the right hands and it might not have been totally avoided, but we will never know, will we?
      This officer needs to be charged with murder and treason for each child’s death, sentenced to life in prison and let nature take it’s course.
      The media needs to stop sensationalizing the AR rifle and report the hard facts of any weapon’s ability to take life, most kids have no idea what any gun can do, they only know what they see in video games and no idea of the reality of how deadly guns are, this seems to be the only way they have to find out and it’s not acceptable. The AR didn’t do it.

  • Jonny5 February 24, 2018, 4:38 pm

    Initially, you might think “coward”; gunman on the loose and he is the armed guard on duty. However, it transpires he is thirty two years into the job and eligible to retire. Also, he arrives on scene, doesn’t know exactly what he is facing or has an idea it’s a young guy with a semi-auto weapon with ample ammo and he’s on the rampage. He on the other hand has a pistol and he’s on his own. Call it cowardice if you like but he’s being criticised for not going into an unknown potentially situation and playing hide and seek with an armed nutjob. He’s a security guard not Seal Team Six. There was a good chance he would have been wasted. There are a lot of armchair and keyboard warriors noshing off about what they would have done had they been there. He probably risk assessed it and thought discretion was the better part of valour. I do truly think I would have gone in. I know I would like to think I would have gone in. Definitely at the age of 21 but if I was an older man? I’m not so sure.

    • Michael February 26, 2018, 5:02 am

      He is a Coward……… worried about Pension….> COWARD….. Kids getting shot and he stayed inside.

      His job is One for a SheepDog NOT A SHEEP.

      Discretion was Cowardice.. I am 64… THAT DAY WOULD BE A GOOD DAY TO DIE… Protecting Kids…AMEN..
      IMO..HE IS WORSE THAN A COWARD… He is guilty of Criminally Negilgent Homicide………SHAME ON HIM

    • David March 2, 2018, 5:30 pm

      He was not a security guard, he was a uniformed and armed sherriff’s deputy!! The security guard was also the football coach who was not allowed to be armed so he shielded as many kids as he could with his own body, sacraficing his life for the students he was trying to was a coward, the other a hero.

    • Bobr110 March 3, 2020, 11:45 am

      jonny5 In addition to what you have said. Add in the fact that some of the other school shooters have worn protective vests. No problem for an AR-15. You can’t reasonably carry a pistol that can defeat a class 3 vest.

      • Phillip DeWitt February 12, 2021, 8:51 am

        You don’t need to penetrate a Class3 vest to put a perpetrator out of commission. A 40 or 45 slug will knock them down, probably out and calling for mommy. With some idiot kid a 9mm would work. Most school shooters have never had a bloody nose or fist fight before ,all they know is video games.

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