Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Florida officer Scot Peterson defends response to Parkland shooting

A rainbow is seen over the memorial outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Fla. Monday Feb. 26 2018 Florida officer Scot Peterson defends response to Parkland shooting
Melinda Barton | 02 March, 2018, 09:47

He resigned after Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he felt sick to his stomach over his deputy's failure to intervene.

Students at a Florida high school where 17 of their classmates and staff members were killed returned Sunday to gather their belongings thrown down in panic during the school shooting almost two weeks ago.

The students had to walk past the three-story building where the massacre took place.

In response, the governor directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate BSO's response to the shooting.

Freshman Francesca Lozano says seeing the building where the shooting happened was scary, but seeing her friends made her feel better.

"Sheriff Israel's fundamental duty is to keep the peace and protect the citizens of Broward County", said Corcoran's letter, posted on Twitter.

The sheriff of the community of Parkland, Florida, where a shooting at a high school earlier this month left 17 dead, now faces mounting calls for his resignation or removal as details surface about his office's handling of the massacre.

Rather than rushing inside, which is the generally accepted police response when facing a potential active-shooter, Peterson's lawyer said he acted properly in following his training for possible outdoors gunfire by seeking shelter and trying to assess what was happening at the Parkland, Florida, high school.

Gov. Rick Scotts order of a state investigation into the performance of the Broward County Sheriffs Office is appropriate, although the call by Florida House Republicans for the governor to suspend the sheriff smacks of political grandstanding.

- Staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High returned Monday to prepare for when school reopens after the mass shooting that killed 17.

Israel and the sheriff's office have come under withering scrutiny after last week's revelation that deputy Scot Peterson did not go in to confront the suspected shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, during the Valentine's Day attack. As the Wall Street Journal recounts, a former neighbor said she called 911 in February 2016 after seeing on social media that Cruz wrote he looked forward to buying a gun when he turned 18 so he could shoot up his school. "He's thrown out of all these schools because he would pick up a chair and just throw it at somebody, a teacher or a student, because he didn't like the way they were talking to him".

"They knew full well that that shooting was going on inside the building, and I will guarantee something for Deputy [Scot] Peterson, or ex-Deputy Peterson - he will relive that four minutes outside of that building for the rest of his life", he said.

Israel agreed with Hager that the sheriff's office received 23 calls regarding Cruz's home but contended most were "routine" parenting issues and five involved the shooter's brother.

The sheriff said this morning he won't resign. There must be an independent investigation and that is why I asked the FDLE Commissioner to immediately start this process. But, at this point, one deputy was remiss, dereliction of duty, and he's now no longer with this agency. "I've given wonderful leadership to this agency", he said. Israel supported a student-led campaign to ban assault weapons, a proposal the NRA opposes.

The FBI has also drawn public outrage by acknowledging it failed to follow proper protocols after receiving a tip saying Mr Cruz possessed a gun, had indicated the desire to kill and could carry out a school shooting. "Only one one law enforcement officer was ever on campus - at any time - during the attack", he said.

Hager also criticized Israel for mishandling dozens of calls received involving Cruz and his family before the rampage and raised concerns over BSO's response to the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting in January 2017.

This article was updated to include a statement from the Broward County Sheriff's Office.

Israel labels as "absolutely untrue" reports that the deputies waited outside even though children were inside the building needing urgent medical treatment.