Deputy Scot Peterson was the only one who had a gun when Nikolas Cruz entered the building and started shooting down students with a semiautomatic AR-15-style assault rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel accused Peterson of arriving at the freshman building about 90 seconds after the first shots were fired, but then lingering outside for at least four minutes.
After videos showed Peterson not entering the building while Cruz shot 17 students, the officer was bashed for his lack of action. Peterson was termed as "Coward of Broward" and Andrew Pollack, who lost his 18-year-old daughter Meadow in the shooting, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him.
I filed a wrongful death suit against Deputy Peterson today. I want to expose that coward so bad. Where ever he goes I want people to recognize him and say that's one of the cowards of Broward. The SRO that let those children and teachers die on the 3rd floor!— Andrew Pollack (@AndrewPollackFL) April 30, 2018
Peterson resigned from his position and has been out of the spotlight since then.
Just recently, in an interview with The Washington Post he said his inability to stop the attack has been “haunting” him.
“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 told The Post.
He defended himself, claiming the scenario drawn by Israel that Peterson did nothing while the students were being attacked was wrong. "I didn't get it right," Peterson admitted. "But it wasn't because of some, 'Oh, I don't want to go into that building. Oh, I don't want to face somebody in there.' It wasn't like that at all."
"Those are my kids in there," he added. "I never would have sat there and let my kids get slaughtered. Never."
According to the former officer, he wasn’t scared to enter the building but miscommunication, chaos and a wrong assumption was the reason for him to stay back.
Peterson claimed he thought shots were being fired outside the school by a sniper.
“I’m getting on the radio to call in the shooting,” Peterson told The Post, reliving his actions on that tragic day. “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.”
“There wasn’t even time to think,” he added. “It just happened, and I started reacting.”
His first interview, since the attack, is set to air on Tuesday on NBC’s “Today” show. “Knowing what I know today, I would have been in that building in a heartbeat,” Peterson said in a preview of the interview. “It was my kids. It’s just ? I didn’t know.”
Tomorrow on TODAY: Scot Peterson, the armed officer who never entered the school during the Parkland shooting, breaks his silence in an exclusive interview with @savannahguthrie pic.twitter.com/oNilEWiMJE— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 4, 2018
He reportedly apologized to the parents of the victims of the Parkland school shooting. “I'm sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry that I didn't... I'm sorry that I didn't know where he was.”
However, parents have lashed out Peterson for his interview. "I'm tired of him trying to paint himself as the victim," Fred Guttenberg, the father of 14-year-old victim Jaime Guttenberg, told the Miami Herald. "He is not a victim. He created victims. He keeps referring to them as his kids. They are not your kids, Scot Peterson! You let them die!"
"This interview makes him even more pathetic than he already was. You failed me and my daughter. If you are truly sorry, I challenge you to face me," he added.
Thumbnail/Banner Image: Reuters, Carlos Garcia Rawlins