Tomorrow on TODAY: Scot Peterson, the armed officer who never entered the school during the Parkland shooting, breaks his silence in an exclusive interview with @savannahguthrie pic.twitter.com/oNilEWiMJE— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 4, 2018
Scot Peterson, the school resource officer that was forced to resign after failing to engage the Parkland shooter during the Feb. 14th massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is now speaking out in defense of his conducts during the shooting.
The former Broward County sheriff deputy has faced intense criticism from the media, parents and even the president and was forced to resign after school surveillance videos showed him not entering the school during the shooting.
Peterson is now defending his conduct during the shooting denying that he "did nothing" as gunshots rang out inside the school. First, he noted that he wasn't sure where the gunfire was coming from. Wasn't sure if the attack was happening inside or outside of the building.
“There wasn’t even time to think,” Peterson said. “It just happened, and I started reacting.”
“I’m getting on the radio to call in the shooting. I’m locking down the school. I’m clearing kids out of the courtyard. They have the video and the call logs. ”
He recalled being in his office that afternoon when the first call came over the radio. Most days on his job are spent dealing with small police stuff, like chasing down stolen cellphones or confiscating marijuana on campus but not once has he ever encountered a gunman.
Before he worked at Marjory Stoneman Douglas as a resource officer he worked as a corrections guard and then a road officer that dealt with car crashes and homicides.
He got the call on his radio at 2:21pm from one of the school's security guards "Possible Firecracker over by building 1200."
Peterson walked out to investigate when he then heard fire alarms going off inside the building. After a security guard gave him a ride to the building he realized that those firecrackers might be gunshots, he thought.
He recalled that at the time he was still unsure of where the blasts were coming from. Peterson surveyed surrounding buildings, the adjacent parking lot and even thought there may be a rooftop sniper so he took a more tactical position..
While outside he continued to scan the parking lot and nearby courtyard telling students to clear the area. He reached for his radio and put the school on "Code Red" lockdown all while reporting that shootings were taking place "inside".
According to reports, the shooting began at 2:22 pm in room 1216 which sets off the fire alarms in the building then quickly turned and started firing into the 1214 classroom and then turns and shoots into room 1213 never fully entering into any of the classrooms.
Just as he fires into room 1213 classroom at 2:23 pm, resource officer Scot Peterson arrived on the outside perimeter of the 1200 building where he remained for the entire shooting and starts reports on police radio that possible shots have been fired in the 1200 building.
Cruz continued to the third floor looking for rooms to shoot into. When geography teacher Scott Beigel unlocked his door to room 1256 it was to let escaping students hide inside of classroom. Beigel was shot and killed outside of his classroom as well as six more people. All the while Peterson was still in the same position outside of the 1200 building.
Deputies never rushed the building during this time despite several 9-1-1 calls possibly because Peterson himself told them to shut down traffic instead.
The first time police officers entered the building was 5 minutes after Cruz had left. Cruz fleed the building along with others who were fleeing the area as well. Completely undetected, Cruz left the campus.
So, just six minutes after Peterson arrived the gunman shot 17 and injured 17 more, he covered 3 floors and exited the building while Peterson was on the radio attempting to communicate with police rather than subdue the shooter.
While assuming a "tactical position" Peterson continued to stay in contact with dispatchers:
2:23 p.m. “I need to shut down Stoneman Douglas, the intersection. We’re talking about the 1200 building,” later added "Get the school on lockdown gentlemen!"
2:24 pm “We don’t have any description yet, we just hear shots, what appear to be shots fired.”
2:25 p.m. "All right... We also heard it’s by, inside the 1200"
2:27 p.m. The shooting had subsided and Peterson radioed for officers to "stay at least 500 feet away at this point" A dispatcher repeated "Stay away from the 12 and 1300 building"
Read the entire interview with Scot Peterson at WashingtonPost.com