Sunrise, FL – Former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Resource Deputy Scot Peterson, the armed Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy who failed to act while Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 students and faculty members on Feb. 14, failed to show up to testify before an investigative state commission on Thursday.
Peterson, who had been subpoenaed to appear before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, instead sent his lawyer to deliver a message that the disgraced former deputy was suing the commission, the Miami Herald reported.
He also launched a GoFundMe page to solicit $150,000 in donations to fund his legal defense.
The campaign was up for a full day with no donations before somebody anonymously donated $20 and the campaign was taken down.
The lawsuit alleged that the commission has acted outside of its statutory authority, asked a Broward court to quash his subpoena, and requested that Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gaultieri be removed from his position as chairman of the commission.
Peterson’s attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo, did not tell the commission that Peterson would not be testifying until he hand-delivered the lawsuit to them.
“When he showed up here this afternoon, he wouldn’t communicate with us,” Sheriff Gualtieri said of DiRuzzo. “He wouldn’t tell us if Peterson was here or not. We heard what you [the audience] heard for the first time.”
DiRuzzo addressed the commission only briefly before he quickly exited the building, the Miami Herald reported.
He later released a statement accusing the commission of failing to act as a “neutral fact-finding body,” and said that the entity had “succumbed to the not-so-thinly-veiled personal agendas of the commission members,” according to the paper.
The video was presented by Broward Sheriff’s Office Detective Zack Scott, who stopped repeatedly during the presentation to explain what exactly was occurring in the footage, including the body count as the shooter progressed through the building.
The video showed that the school resource officer arrived at the building and heard gunshots while the shooter was still on the first floor of the building.
“So if Peterson had gone through the door, he would have encountered the shooter?” Sheriff Gualtieri asked.
“Entirely possible,” Det. Scott responded.
Most members of the commission agreed that if Peterson had acted according to current police protocols and policies, fewer people would have died on Feb. 14, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
“So as Cruz was moving down the hallway, Peterson was standing at the door,” Sheriff Gualtieri reasoned aloud at the meeting.
“And either at the time or just before he shot Feis, Peterson was standing at that door,” the sheriff asked rhetorically, referring to the 37-year-old Aaron Feis, the assistant football coach who was murdered by the shooter that day.
At times during the meeting, the sheriff appeared challenged to control his anger at what he was seeing in the video.
“Peterson fled back over to the 7/8 building as opposed to going in and chasing him up the stairs and shooting him,” Sheriff Gualtieri declared.
That’s when then-Deputy Peterson got on the radio and ordered officers to stay away from the 1200 building and told the dispatcher to have the intersections closed.
“What he’s saying here at this juncture is totally contrary to all law enforcement protocol and policy… telling people to lockdown intersections at this juncture when the guy was still on the second floor,” the sheriff ranted.
Peterson defended himself in an interview with the Today show in June, during which he claimed he did not know that the gunfire was coming from inside the school’s “1200 building,” the Miami Herald reported.
But on Wednesday and Thursday, commission investigators presented evidence that Peterson had radioed that the shooter was possibly inside the 1200 building within two minutes after Cruz opened fire.
“It’s a bunch of lies,” Sheriff Gualtieri said of Peterson’s attempts to justify his inaction during the massacre. “It’s fictitious.”
“Peterson did not do his job. Peterson is a failure, and he should be embarrassed and held accountable for what he did not do,” the sheriff added, according to WPTV.
“He’s a coward,” said Andrew Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, was murdered during the attack. “He could have saved my daughter.”
The commission is scheduled to provide the findings of its investigation into the massacre to Governor Rick Scott by January 1, 2019.
Peterson, a 32-year veteran of the force, retired from the department in the wake of the attack, and is collecting an annual pension of $100,000.