A former sheriff’s deputy has been charged with child neglect for his “lack of response” during the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead, authorities announced Tuesday.
Ex-Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson, who was assigned to the high school on the day of the shooting, failed to fulfill his duties when he remained outside the school during the Valentine’s Day rampage, according to the sheriff’s office.
“The FDLE investigation shows former Deputy Peterson did absolutely nothing to mitigate the MSD shooting that killed 17 children, teachers and staff and injured 17 others,” said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen.
Peterson has been officially terminated as a deputy. Sergeant Brian Miller was also terminated but has not been charged.
“The deputy and sergeant were found to have neglected their duties at MSD High School,” a press release from the Broward County Sheriff’s Department states. “They have been terminated and will no longer be privileged to serve as law enforcement deputies for the Broward Sheriff’s Office.”
Peterson was charged with seven counts of child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence, and one count of perjury. Six of the seven child neglect counts are second-degree felonies, according to the Broward State Attorney’s Office. The seventh child neglect charge is a misdemeanor “because the child was not severely injured.” The remainder of the charges are also misdemeanors.
“Every time (Peterson) knowingly lied, he caused further pain to the families,” Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime Guttenberg was killed in the shooting, told the Miami Herald. “He could have saved some of the 17... He could have saved my daughter and he didn’t. He needs to rot in Hell.”
Peterson, who was seen on surveillance video on the day of the shooting, has been heavily criticized for going against police protocol by failing to enter the building during the massacre. He also told other police officers to stay out of the building, according to released radio dispatches, even as calls flooded into 911 call centers about the chaos inside. He later resigned amid public outrage.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, who took over after former Sheriff Scott Israel was suspended earlier this year, immediately focused on the ongoing internal investigation of seven deputies to determine whether they complied with sheriff’s office standards on the day of the shooting.
After an administrative discipline hearing, Peterson was taken into custody Tuesday on multiple felony and misdemeanor charges, according to authorities.
“We cannot fulfill 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,” Sheriff Tony said in a statement. “I am committed to addressing deficiencies and improving the Broward Sheriff’s Office.”
“The Broward Sheriff’s Office and our first responders are now better prepared and trained to respond to an active shooter crisis,” Tony added. “We have enhanced our active shooter response protocol, increased our training staff, introduced essential equipment, established training partnerships with federal organizations and are building a regional training center.”
Peterson will be booked into Broward County Jail on a $102,000 bond, according to the Broward State Attorney’s Office.