BSO detective says Parkland school deputy's initial statement filled with inaccuracies

Detective says victims were killed while ex-Deputy Scot Peterson stood outside

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Associated Press

Detective John Curcio (left) said he found it "unreasonable" to believe former Deputy Scot Peterson didn't know where the shots were coming from during the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

PARKLAND, Fla. - A Broward Sheriff's Office homicide detective claims the former deputy entrusted to protect the Parkland school where 17 people died in a mass shooting gave an initial statement filled with inaccuracies about his actions.

Detective John Curcio told investigators that former Deputy Scot Peterson's story about what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last Valentine's Day contains many inconsistencies when compared with video evidence.

Curcio is the lead investigator in the criminal case against Nikolas Cruz. His statement, released Tuesday, was given to Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents working with a state commission looking into the law enforcement response to the school shooting.

Scot Peterson

In the Aug. 28 interview, Curcio recalled his initial conversation with Peterson two days after the shooting, saying the longtime school resource deputy seemed confident in his abilities, "but he didn't have a lot of recollection about his interaction with Nikolas Cruz."

Once Curcio was able to review surveillance video from the school, he determined that many of Peterson's statements weren't consistent with what the video showed.

Curcio said Peterson claimed the golf cart wasn't where it was usually parked by his office in the 100 building when the gunfire started, so Peterson decided to approach the 1200 building on foot.

"He literally is four or five feet from the golf cart when he comes out, like, in front of the 100 building," Curcio said.

In the video, Peterson can be seen getting picked up by campus monitor Andrew Medina security specialist Kelvin Greenleaf in the golf cart and dropped off at the 1200 building.

"That's a fact he never says to me in his statement," Curcio said.

Curcio said when he compared footage from the exterior surveillance video to the footage from inside, it became obvious there were more shots than what Peterson claimed to have heard.

"And the two to three shots that he claims he heard were actually over 70 shots going off inside the building," Curcio said.

In synching the timeline to the videos, Curcio said, Medina, Greenleaf and Peterson "retreat very, very quickly." He said "that movement, the retreating is almost exactly consistent with when we know the fatal shots are being fired into (wrestling) coach (Chris) Hixon, who's already been hit, on the first floor, as he retreated for cover" before Cruz "puts some final shots into him."

Curcio said that, at one point, as Cruz was firing rounds on the second floor, Peterson was positioned 69 feet away along the wall of the 700 building, when "some of the rounds actually come out of the building through the window on the same side of the building where Peterson is positioned."

When asked if there were any more people injured or killed while Peterson was standing outside, Curcio replied, "Yes. (Assistant football) coach (Aaron) Feis would've been shot and killed. Everybody on the third floor would’ve been shot and killed."

Curcio said he saw things in the video that "are not consistent with what you would do if you thought there was a sniper."

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Assistant football coach and security guard Aaron Feis died while shielding students during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, in Parkland, Florida, school officials said.

"He's standing, at points, right in front of the 700 building, looking at the 1200 building with his radio in his hand and his gun is in the other hand, and he's looking at the building," Curcio said. "You don't expose yourself like that if you don't know where the shooter is and you don't -- if you think there's a sniper."

Curcio said Peterson never mentioned a sniper in his initial interview with the detective.

"You can hear the gunshots going off in his radio transmission," Curcio said, adding that "those shots are pretty damn loud."

"So, um, you know, the shots going off, coupled with the fact that there's kids screaming and everything from a building you're 69 feet away from, you know, again, I'm not saying anyone's lying…," Curcio said.

But, Curcio said, it was "unreasonable, in my opinion, to believe he didn't know where those shots were coming from."

Peterson was suspended without pay and later resigned.

The commission has found Peterson was derelict in his duty for not confronting the gunman. Peterson's lawyer declined to comment.

Nikolas Cruz

Curcio also spoke in detail about his interview with Cruz.

"I know I talked to him and his statement was very self-serving," Curcio said. "I don't think he ever planned on committing suicide. He dressed like a student so he could escape."

Curcio said he believes Cruz "not only premeditated the murders, but premeditated how he was gonna get out of there."

Once Cruz realized he only had 180 rounds left when authorities started to converge on the campus and "that he couldn't get through those windows with his rounds, he just decided to abandon the plan and try to escape," Curcio said.

Broward Sheriff's Office

Curcio also addressed what he believed to be a "false" narrative that BSO deputies didn't enter the building with Coral Springs police.

"We knew that to be absolutely not true because we had the internal, uh, cameras," he said.

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Broward Sheriff's Office deputies block off a street after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Curcio called it "a very frustrating time," saying the video couldn't be shown publicly because it showed the victims.

"But I can tell you this: you know, Coral Springs and BSO went in together, um, they extracted people together and they saved people's lives that were injured together," Curcio said. "So, um, you know, nobody understands [what] that scene was like unless you were up there."

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