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Ex-School Deputy Scott Peterson Arrested On Child Neglect Charge in School Shooting

| June 5, 2019

scott peterson

‘We’re all here for the same goal, to protect our kids, to protect our property,’ then-school resource deputy Scott Peterson told the Broward County School Board in a February 2015 appearance.

Scot Peterson, the former Broward County school-resource officer who was forced to retire after he did not confront the gunman in last year’s Parkland school massacre, was arrested Tuesday on 11 charges related to his inaction.


A 15-month investigation, conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, focused on the actions of law-enforcement officers when confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, armed with an AR-15, and killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.

Petersen was arrested Tuesday at the Broward Sheriff’s Office headquarters and booked into the county jail on seven counts of neglect of a child, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury.

“There’s no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives,” Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen said.

The state investigation found that Peterson, the longtime resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, refused to investigate when he heard gunshots on campus and retreated while students and faculty members were shot and killed. The investigation also said Peterson directed law-enforcement officers responding to the scene to remain 500 feet away from the building where the shooting took place.

“All the facts related to Mr. Peterson’s failure to act during the MSD massacre clearly warranted both termination of employment and criminal charges,” Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said. “It’s never too late for accountability and justice.”

State investigators worked with the State Attorney Mike Satz’s office in bringing charges against the 56-year-old former deputy. Investigators interviewed 184 witnesses and reviewed video surveillance of the school, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Peterson’s arrest was announced in a news release Tuesday afternoon as the state-created Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission met in Broward County. The commission, which has made school-safety recommendations to the Legislature, has been critical of the Broward school district and sheriff’s office.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the chairman of the state commission, told the panel about Peterson’s arrest as Max Schachter, whose son, Alex, was killed in the shooting, peppered a Broward County school official about Cruz’s years in the system.

Schachter wanted to know if any district officials had been held accountable for mistakes made in handling Cruz. Gualtieri, however, said officials could not publicly discuss Cruz’ mental-health history and the response to it because those records are confidential, despite reports about the records by the Sun Sentinel newspaper.

Minutes after Gualtieri told the panel Peterson has been arrested, he also told the panel the Broward Sheriff’s Office has moved to terminate Sgt. Brian Miller, who had been under investigation since the shooting. Gualtieri told commissioners that Miller stayed outside the school when the shooting was taking place.

State officials were quick to praise the criminal charges against Peterson, with state Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz suggesting the state should go further and “strip him of his 10k a month pension.”

“There isn’t enough justice or laws or accomplishment that can ever account for what happened at #MSD in #Parkland, but I’ll take this one,” Moskowitz, a former Democratic House member from nearby Coral Springs, tweeted after the arrest was announced.

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, was killed in the shooting, tweeted: “I have no comment except to say rot in hell Scott Petersen. You could have saved some of the 17. You could have saved my daughter. You did not and then you lied about it and you deserve the misery coming your way.”

During the 2019 legislative session, two bills that would have blocked retirement benefits for Peterson were considered, but they died in the committee process.

“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 Feb. 14, 2018,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a statement.

Moody added the criminal charges will hold Peterson “responsible for his inaction.”

–Ana Ceballos, News Service of Florida

Watch Scott Peterson’s appearance before the Broward County School Board in February 2015:

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12 Responses for “Ex-School Deputy Scott Peterson Arrested On Child Neglect Charge in School Shooting”

  1. mark101 says:

    The man was a coward in the line of duty.

  2. Marverous42 says:

    Sadly shifting blame to the police will not bring these children back. The one at fault is the shooter. I’m pretty sure that the Supreme Court already decided Year’s ago that police do not have a duty to protect. Are they also suing the shooter?

  3. Just Saying says:

    As despicable as his inaction was, I do not think his failure to act was criminal. No one knows what they would do in that situation. If he lied to investigators the perjury charge is justified. Being a coward is not criminal. Freezing up and being unable to overcome fear is something that could happen to lots of folks. The Child Neglect charges will not stand. A good attorney will get him off. He should never work as a law enforcement officer to be sure. Being unable to overcome fear is not criminal it is just shameful.

  4. atilla says:

    There must be NO mercy for this COWARD. He will live the rest of his life known as a COWARD. If the law doesn’t put him behind bars then the system is broke.

  5. Long Time Resident says:

    I’m so glad he was arrested, cowards have no place in law enforcement. I’m still wondering why nothing has ever been mentioned when officers outside Pulse Nightclub waited for many hours to go inside, while many of those people bled out.

  6. Laura says:

    No bystander should be forced to act; but his failure was criminal here because he was trusted with these children’s lives. This is like a babysitter letting a toddler drown, just as much neglect and failure to act. This was his job.

  7. gmath55 says:

    If Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx was prosecuting the case and if Ex-School Deputy Scott Peterson has lots of money he would go free just like TV actor Jussie Smollett.

  8. Mothersworry says:

    What he did is not forgivable but in some cases understandable. I remember a lot of people freezing or not advancing in combat. Advancing into gunfire is a very hard thing to do. He couldn’t make the move and people died. But would these kids have died anyway? He was armed with a pistol, not a match for an AR. How many LEO’s would do the same? One would hope none and they all would advance bravely into gunfire but maybe not. One will never know until it happens. Sure all the bar room commandos will beat their chest and spout about how tough they are but when things start buzzing by toughness will soon dissipate.
    I’m withholding judgement until he is tried.

  9. Flatsflyer says:

    Understand that Trump is considering him for the as the Director of the FBI?

  10. Mikey Eyes says:

    Sheriff Scott Israel received at least 45 calls for service relating to Cruz or his brother from 2008 to 2017. The records list police calls from the home at 6166 Northwest 80th Terrace in Parkland, Florida, which was the home owned by Nikolas Cruz’s mother during that time period, according to property deeds. Calls relating to Nikolas Cruz include descriptions of fights with his brother, cursing at his mother, and throwing her against the wall for taking away his Xbox. The issues brought to the sheriff’s attention worsen over time.

    In 2014, someone accused him of shooting a chicken with a BB gun. Later that year, an unidentified peer counselor alerted the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s school resource deputy that Cruz “possibly” drank gasoline “in an attempt to commit suicide,” was “cutting himself,” and “wished to purchase a gun.” On November 1, the day his mother died, Broward Sheriff’s Office received a call from Lynda Cruz’s cousin, who warned deputies that Cruz had rifles and pleaded for them to “recover these weapons.” On November 30, the sheriff’s office received a call from a tipster in Massachusetts who warned them Cruz was “collecting guns and knives,” and “could be a school shooter in the making.” Records show the deputy “referred caller to the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office,” which had jurisdiction over Cruz’s temporary home with a family friend. Within days, Cruz was back south in Broward County staying with another friend’s family.Since the attack, which killed 17, there have been multiple calls for the sheriff, a Democrat, to resign from his elected post. On Saturday, Florida State Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton) urged the governor to relieve Israel for “gross incompetence.” On Sunday, Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran (R-Land O’Lakes), wrote a letter to the governor citing the department’s “failures to intervene” with Nikolas Cruz that are “unacceptable and unforgivable.” Sheriff Scott Israel was incompetence. And Peterson is a coward!

    No law passed to prevent gun violence will work with idiots like this in law enforcement!

  11. Agkistrodon says:

    Flatsflyer, Everything equates to Trumps fault eh? How about this, The Obama Admin was the one that allowed for keeping problem KNOWN violent people(students, some over the age of 20), with KNOWN histories in our schools. I am neither R nor D, But Facts Trump Feelings.

  12. jake says:

    These charges are nonsense. Is this man a coward, yes, is he guilty of “child neglect”, hardly. Most of these charges will be dropped, and he will not be found guilty of the rest. The shooter, Sheriff Israel, and the FBI are the real guilty parties.

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