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Disgraced Parkland Officer Lied Radio Dispatch Recordings Reveal

Issued: 2018-03-10

As gunman Nikolas Cruz went on a rampage at Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, firing on students and teachers until his semiautomatic AR-15 jammed, Broward Deputy Scot Peterson cowered outside behind the safety of cover, “pointing his gun at nothing.”

Peterson publicly stated that he thought gunfire was happening outside on campus, not inside the building – perhaps to justify not going in to stop the shooting which claimed 17 lives.

He lied.

Internal radio dispatches released by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Thursday reveal Peterson immediately focused on Building 12 and radioed that gunfire was happening “inside.”

What’s more – Peterson warned his fellow officer to stay away – despite wounded students and staff inside who required assistance. Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) policy requires deputies to engage an active shooter and eliminate the threat.

“Do not approach the 12 or 1300 building, stay at least 500 feet away,” shouted a panicked Peterson as people screamed in the background.

The timeline of events and audio recording of police radio chatter shed new light on the response by the BSO.

The records appear to support Broward Sheriff Scott Israel’s contention that Peterson, a longtime school resource officer, should have entered Building 12 to engage Cruz and try to prevent deaths. They also appear to show that other deputies may have refrained from rushing into the school at the direction of Peterson and a Parkland captain. The response by the agency has been the subject of national scrutiny, and is currently under review by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. -Miami Herald

BSO police union president Jeff Bell welcomed the release of the audio and timeline of events.

“It certainly backs up that he never went into the school,” Bell said of Scot Peterson. “At one point he says to keep back 500 feet. Why would he say that?”

Timeline of events via the Miami Herald

Cruz was dropped off at the school by an Uber at 2:19 p.m. Two minutes later, he entered Building 12. He began firing within 15 seconds. Peterson, at the time, was near the administration building.

“Be advised we have possible, could be firecrackers. I think we have shots fired, possible shots fired —1200 building,” Peterson radioed at 2:23 p.m.

At that moment, according to the video, Peterson arrived at the southeast corner of Building 12, where he appeared to remain “for the duration of the incident.” “We’re talking about the 1200 building, it’s going to be the building off Holmberg Road,” Peterson said frantically seconds later.

“Get the school locked down, gentlemen!” he shouted.

As the shots intensified, other deputies began racing to the scene, radioing in. One believed he heard shots by the football field, something Peterson mentioned in a statement released last month by his attorney, arguing that the school resource deputy thought shots were coming from outside the 1200 building.

“BSO trains its officers that in the event of outdoor gunfire one is to seek cover and assess the situation in order to communicate what one observes with other law enforcement,” Peterson’s attorney said.

But Peterson, according to the timeline and radio dispatches reviewed by the Miami Herald, remained focused on Building 12.

“All right… We also heard it’s by, inside the 1200,” Peterson said at 2:25 p.m.

Joseph DiRuzzo, Peterson’s attorney, did not respond to an email and a call to his office. Peterson resigned eight days after the shooting rather than be suspended without pay pending an internal affairs investigation.

As the shooting progressed, calls began “blowing up” the 911 call centers. Students were spilling out of the campus. Peterson radioed to make sure “no one comes inside the school.”


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