Parkland officer Scot Peterson says he wasn’t scared during the horrendous Florida shooting several months ago — and he objects to being called a coward.
His protestations notwithstanding, the sheriff’s deputy failed to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while Nikolas Cruz murdered 14 students and three staff members on that tragic February day.
Peterson gave a nationally televised interview that many people believe casts him as a “victim” — and some Parkland parents are furious.
He appeared on Tuesday on NBC’s “Today” show with Samantha Guthrie to give his account of his actions during the school shooting.
“The families need to know, I didn’t get it right, but it wasn’t because of ‘I don’t want to go into the building’ [or] ‘I don’t want to face somebody in there,'” Peterson said. “It wasn’t like that at all.”
He added, “I never thought even for a moment of being scared or a coward because I was just doing things the whole time. It never entered my mind.”
He added, “I’m never gonna get over this,” he said. “Those were my kids … I was there to protect those kids.”
Many Parkland parents are outraged that the only armed guard at the high school didn’t personally intervene to protect their precious children.
“I’m tired of him trying to paint himself as the victim,” Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg, was killed by Cruz in the shooting, 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!”
The distraught dad continued, “This interview makes him even more pathetic than he already was. You failed me and my daughter. Those people who lost their lives, including my daughter, are victims of his inability to do his job; victims of his failure.”
Another dad was equally aghast at Peterson’s remarks. “I don’t understand how he can come out and say that he did do his job,” Max Schachter, who lost his 14-year-old son, Alex, told the Herald. “He did nothing. He stood outside. He knew the guy was inside killing our kids. It’s all crap.”
Schachter added, “He actually caused more deaths because he told officers not to go in. He should be prosecuted.”
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Meadow Pollack, 18, was slain in the attack, and her father, Andrew Pollack, is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against both Peterson and shooter Nikolas Cruz.
“I think the whole country knows he didn’t do his job and this interview was his way of him trying to live with it,” Pollack told the Herald. “He’s just a liar. It’s all on tape.”
The father added, “He could have stopped it. Could have saved my kid … Nobody should be able to not do their job, receive a pension, and ride off into the sunset.”
Scot Peterson claims one reason for his inability to intervene was the difficulty in locating the source of the shots.
“It’s a hurricane-proof building,” Peterson said in the “Today” interview. “It’s hard to even hear. It’s a very thick glass.”
“Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. And then pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,” said a baseball coach in describing the noise he heard.
His claim that he could not adequately hear the gunfire conflicts with accounts by security guards on the scene that day, according to WPTV.
“Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. And then pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,” Andrew Medina, a baseball coach and campus monitor said in describing the noise he heard, reported the West Palm Beach station on Tuesday.
Scot Peterson, you were not a victim and so stop with this crap. You created victims. My daughter was one of them. She was on the 3rd floor and you could have saved her life. You are not making things better with your interviews. They are not "your kids" as you say.
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) June 4, 2018
Medina was the first to spot Cruz, according to the Sun Sentinel; he noticed him outside the building mere moments before the attack. He radioed another security guard, alerting that person to suspicious activity. Within a minute, there were gunshots, at least 15 of them, by Medina’s estimate.
One person who did try to stop the attack was the high school’s football coach, Aaron Feis, ABC News reported. He died trying to shield students from the gunfire.
Peterson was suspended and resigned amid public outcry over his inaction, the Sun Sentinel and other outlets reported back in February.
Scott Israel, the Broward County sheriff who is dealing with scrutiny of his own actions during the mass shooting, said Peterson should have gone “in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.”