Fort Lauderdale, FL – The former sheriff’s deputy who is accused of having hidden outside while a gunman murdered 17 students and staff inside the freshman building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School submitted a 14-page rebuttal with his side of the story to the investigating commission.
The letter from former Broward Deputy Scot Petersen said that he had been made a “personal and political scapegoat” by former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, WFOR reported.
“I assessed the situation and acted accordingly to the real time intelligence I assessed on the scene,” Peterson wrote.
Former Deputy Petersen said Sheriff Israel wanted to take the onus off himself and point the finger at somebody else for the Valentine’s Day massacre at the Parkland high school.
“I was not given any information whatsoever by BSO communications regarding the location or description of the shooter(s)…or that there were any victim(s) inside the 1200 building…” Petersen wrote in the letter. “…my law enforcement actions during the horrific school shooting on February 14, 2018, were consistent with my training and based on my ‘real-time intelligence’ on the scene” and “…in compliance with the Broward Sheriff’s Office Active Shooter Policy.”
But the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission Chairman and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri called Peterson’s rebuttal a “fairy tale,” the Sun Sentinel reported.
“It makes me mad,” Sheriff Gualtieri said. “The reason why is he continues to engage in this self-serving rhetoric. He needs to take responsibility for his actions. He needs to fess up.”
The sheriff said Petersen accused the commission of being one-sided but then ignored a subpoena to testify before them, the Sun Sentinel reported.
The commission concluded that there was “overwhelming evidence that Deputy Peterson knew that the gunshots were coming from within or within the immediate area of Building 12” but no evidence to support his assertion that he “attempted to investigate the source of the gunshots.”
Instead, the commission found that the former school resource officer had “retreated to an area of safety,” according to the Sun Sentinel.
Initially, Sheriff Israel called Deputy Petersen a hero in the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting at the high school.
But the sheriff quickly changed his tune as surveillance video and audio recording of police communications showed the deputy, who had worked at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for eight years, made no effort to stop the shooter’s rampage through the 1200 Building.
Sheriff Israel called the school resource officer a “coward” and Deputy Petersen resigned from the sheriff’s department shortly thereafter.
In his letter arguing the commission’s conclusions, the disgraced deputy claimed he did call a Code Red when the incident began and took control of the scene and began to secure the perimeter “to safeguard the public from entering.”
Petersen said he relayed info to arriving officers and provided keys to classrooms to Coral Springs police officers when they arrived, the Sun Sentinel reported.
He also claimed he had gotten “critical” information about the gunman and relayed it to other officers by yelling because the radios weren’t working.
The former school resource officer claimed he had never been told that 911 calls made from cell phones in Parkland went to the Coral Springs dispatcher rather than Broward County.
Petersen also claimed he didn’t know the gunshots were inside the freshman building, WFOR reported.
However, his initial radio calls told a very different story.
“Possible shots fired. 1200 building,” the former Deputy Petersen said in one of his first radio calls during the incident.
Parents of students who were murdered on that fateful day have also challenged the former deputy’s claims, WFOR reported.
“He knew exactly where shots were coming from,” said Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina was fatally shot during the massacre. “That’s why he took cover behind the pillar. I think it’s irrefutable.”
Petersen asked that his 14-page rebuttal be added to the official report from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas commission.
Sheriff Gualtieri, the commission chairman, said the disgraced deputy’s letter would “absolutely not” be added to the final report, the Sun Sentinel reported.