In February of 2018, 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and 17 others were injured. The alleged gunman, 20-year old Nikolas Cruz, is facing the death penalty, although he tried to bargain for a life sentence if he pleads guilty. His trial should begin in 2020. But life is getting interesting today for Scot Peterson.
Peterson, a sheriff’s deputy, was on duty as the school’s resource officer when the shooting began. But he was arrested today for not doing his job and staying outside the building while the shooting was going on. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has charged him with seven counts of neglect of a child, three counts of culpable negligence, and one count of perjury.
“The FDLE investigation shows former Deputy Peterson did absolutely nothing to mitigate the MSD shooting that killed 17 children, teachers and staff and injured 17 others,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen. “There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives.”
The 15-month investigation shows that Peterson refused to investigate the source of the gunshots, retreated while the shooting was still happening, and also directed other law enforcement officers to remain 500 feet from the building. Had he acted differently, he may have prevented the deaths of students and teachers. Peterson was the only armed officer stationed at the school.
“The Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting was a horrible tragedy and it is devastating to think that the loss of innocent lives of students and faculty could have been prevented,” Florida’s Attorney General, Ashley Moody, said in a statement. “As a mother, I cannot imagine the heartbreak and pain the families of the victims and the whole Parkland community have felt every day since February 14, 2018. I want to thank the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Broward State Attorney’s Office for investigating this tragedy and holding Scot Peterson responsible for his inaction.”
This arrest will likely end his state pension. Peterson was suspended after the shooting pending investigation but applied for retirement shortly thereafter. He has since been drawing $8,702.35 each month. Being incarcerated may disqualify him for his state pension.
Scot Peterson, if found guilty on all charges, faces as much as 96.5 years in prison.