Scot Peterson defends himself in letter to Parkland commission

He says Israel 'made me his personal and political scapegoat'

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor
NBC's Today via CNN

Scot Peterson, the school resource officer who has been publicly crucified for his inaction during the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, speaks to NBC's "Today" about the shooting.

PARKLAND, Fla. - Former School Resource Officer Scot Peterson, who has been vilified for his role in the Parkland school shooting, pushed back against the findings of a state panel, issuing an 18-page letter that defends his response to the massacre that left 17 dead.

"My actions on February 14, 2018 were consistent with the training I had received for the past 30 years. I assessed the situation and acted accordingly to the real time intelligence I assessed on the scene," Peterson wrote to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission this week.

Peterson, who was an armed deputy assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the day of the shooting, has been faulted for failing to engage gunman Nikolas Cruz. His critics say that, if Peterson had entered the building during the shooting lives, could have been saved.

Peterson has said -- at the time -- it was unclear where the shots were coming from.

In his letter, Peterson wrote that he was following the Broward County Sheriff's Office's policies on active shooter situations and was hampered by communication failures that plagued the Broward County Sheriff's Office's radio system during and after the shooting. 

Peterson writes that then-Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel "made me his personal and political scapegoat to take the onus off of himself and place the blame on me for the massacre at my school."

He also disputes the panel's finding that he didn't place the school in lockdown.

Peterson said he helped identify Cruz and his information led to Cruz's capture shortly after the shooting. He said that information was not included in the panel's findings.

"I submit to Gov. Ron DeSantis and the citizens of the State of Florida that I did nothing wrong and everything humanly possible with the information provided to me on the scene of that horrific day," Peterson wrote.

The panel appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott includes to two parents -- Max Schachter and Ryan Petty -- who lost children in shooting. Both received copies of Peterson's letter.

"I was completely shocked. I didn't want to ever get a letter or hear from him," Schachter said.

Schachter said the panel interviewed hundreds of people and reviewed video and audio recording that supported the commissions' findings.

"If he had sense of decency, he could’ve come before the commission and answer questions and presented his defense. He chose not to," Schachter said.

 

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