Former Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson was arrested Tuesday on seven counts of neglect of a child and three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury. He was booked into the Sheriff's Office main jail in Fort Lauderdale.
The arrest follows a 15-month investigation into the actions of law enforcement during and after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Peterson, 56, the school security guard, was on duty during the attack but never went inside, even after he heard shooter Nikolas Cruz repeatedly firing his weapon.
“The FDLE investigation shows Peterson did absolutely nothing to mitigate the massacre that ended in the death of 17 students, teachers and staff and injury of 17 others,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen. “There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives.”
To get to the point of arrest, the agency said FDLE agents interviewed 184 witnesses, reviewed many dozens of hours of video surveillance, and wrote 212 investigative reports totaling more than 800 hours on the case. FDLE said in a news release agents received the full cooperation and assistance of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Coral Springs Police Department and every agency that responded to the shooting.
"All the facts related to Mr. Peterson’s failure to act during the MSD massacre clearly warranted both termination of employment and criminal charges," said Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Tony to replace Sheriff Scott Israel for Israel's negligence leading up to and following the Parkland tragedy.
"It’s never too late for accountability and justice," Tony told reporters.
The twice-divorced Peterson, an Illinois native, was a 30-year law enforcement veteran who started with the Broward Sheriff's Office in July 1985. He attended then-Miami Dade Community College and Florida International University, where he graduated with honors with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. He lives in a suburb of Boynton Beach.
In his last service evaluation, which covered the period from February 2016 to February 2017, his evaluator wrote, "Deputy Peterson is trusted as the School Resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. He values his position and takes pride in protecting the students, faculty and staff at his school. Deputy Peterson is dependable and reliable and handles issues that arise with tact and solid judgment. He is a positive influence on the students and they respect and appreciate his position."
If convicted as charged, Peterson could face a maximum of nearly 97 years in state prison. His bond has been set at $102,000.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow, 18, was killed. “Accountability is all I wanted, and now it looks like it’s happening.”
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