The school resource officer on duty when a gunman killed 17 people at a Florida school found a safe spot outside the building — and did absolutely nothing, officials said Thursday.
Peterson, a school safety officer since 2009, remained outside the building for about four of the six minutes Nikolas Cruz was inside killing students with an assault rifle, according to Israel.
Peterson was awarded School Resource Officer of the Year in 2014 and praised in internal memos for “tak(ing) pride in protecting the students, faculty and staff at his school,” according to an documents obtained by NBC.
When asked what Peterson should have done, Israel did not mince his words during the press conference on Thursday.
“Went in,” Israel said. “Address the killer. Kill the killer.”
Instead, Israel said, Peterson is seen on video doing nothing.
“Never went in,” Israel said. “What I saw was a deputy arrive at the West side of building 12, take up a position and he never went in.”
Despite being armed, video showed Peterson taking up a defensive position outside the west side of the freshman building where the shootings occurred, and remained there during the massacre.
“Devastated, sick to my stomach, there are no words.” Israel said of his feelings after learning Peterson did not enter the building.
“These families lost their children, we lost coaches. I’ve been to the funerals. I’ve been to the homes where they’re sitting Shiva. I’ve been to the vigils. It’s just, there are no words.”
Peterson, a law enforcement officer for more than 32 years, was placed on restricted administrative assignment.
He surrendered his identification card and weapons on Feb. 22, and was prohibited from entering any sheriff’s office facility.
“He was armed,” Israel said. “He was in uniform. After seeing video, witness statements and Scott Peterson’s very own statement, I decided this morning to suspend Scott Peterson without pay pending an internal investigation.
“As is his right Scott Peterson chose to resign because he has the necessary time with the agency and meets the requirements of retirement.”
Less than a year ago, a lieutenant nominated Peterson for deputy of the year, lauding his experience and dedication to the job.
“Deputy Peterson is dependable and reliable and handles issues that arise with tact and solid judgment. Peterson is a positive influence on the students and they respect and appreciate his position,” the internal memo reads.
In 2015, Peterson was also the subject of an internal investigation for challenging the supervision of Broward District School Police Chief Anthony Wililams over the “Resident on Campus Security Program.”
In an email cited in the complaint, Peterson slammed Williams for his “failure to manage the ROCS program” and goes on to write, “We all have the same goal, to protect our students, staff and schools.”
Israel also revealed that since 2008, deputies were involved in 23 calls regarding Cruz and his brother.
That revelation led Israel to place two other resource officers on administrative duties. Their names were not released.