Former officer charged in Florida school shooting on claim he stayed outside

Peterson is seen in a still image from the school surveillance video released by police.
Peterson is seen in a still image from the school surveillance video released by police.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - A former Florida sheriff's deputy was arrested on Tuesday (June 4) on multiple felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from his lack of response during the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead, the county sheriff said.

Scot Peterson, 56, who was taken into custody, faces seven counts of child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury, Broward County State Attorney Mike Satz said in a statement.

The massacre, one of the country's worst school shootings, occurred when a gunman entered the school building on Feb 14, 2018, and opened fire. Nikolas Cruz, who was 19 at the time and previously had been expelled from the school, was charged with the murders. He is currently awaiting trial.

A 27-minute surveillance video released a month after the massacre showed Peterson, who was assigned to the Parkland, Florida, high school, stayed outside the building during the shooting, according to the sheriff's office.

"We cannot fulfil our commitment to always protect the security and safety of our Broward County community without doing a thorough assessment of what went wrong that day," Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said in a statement, announcing that he had fired Peterson and another deputy, Brian Miller, who he said neglected their duties during the shooting.

Peterson's arrest follows a 14-month investigation into law enforcement's response during the shooting. If convicted on all of the charges, Peterson faces 96 years in state prison.

He was booked into the Broward County Jail and his bond set at US$102,000. Peterson would be required to wear a GPS monitor and must surrender his passport. He cannot possess a firearm while the case is pending, the state's attorney said.

Peterson resigned a week after the shooting. His and Miller's termination means they can no longer serve as law enforcement deputies for the Broward Sheriff's Office, the sheriff said.