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Florida School Shooting: This Is Deputy Scot Peterson Who "Never Went In"

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PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – As teachers and faculty were allowed to return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Friday morning, we are learning more about Deputy Scot Peterson, the armed school resource deputy who did nothing to stop suspect Nikolas Cruz from killing 17 people on campus on Valentine's Day.

Scot Peterson
Deputy Scott Peterson in Feb. 2015 speaking at a Broward School Board meeting (Broward County Public Schools)

"Devastated. Sick to my stomach," said Broward Sheriff Scott Israel in reaction to learning Deputy Peterson stayed outside as the shooting unfolded inside the freshman building.

Peterson was subsequently suspended without pay and placed under investigation. He later chose to resign from the department. There is an open internal investigation into his actions.

On Friday, President Donald Trump spoke out at least twice about Peterson saying, "He didn't have courage when something happened. He certainly did a poor job. There is no question about that."

The President also said, "We had one guard and he did not turn out to be too good. I can tell you that. He is not a credit to law enforcement. He didn't want to go into the school and be tested under fire. It was no a good result."

CBS News obtained video of Peterson speaking at a Broward School Board meeting in February 2015. The discussion was about the review of the resident on campus security program.

Ironically, Peterson made numerous references to how he would often act decisively as a school resource officer when dealing with crime. He recalled one instance where he had contacted Coconut Creek police as a perimeter was set up for a suspect.

"We caught the individual running around Coconut Creek Parkway hiding by a bank," he said. "We found out he was an 18 year old and he was there with a paint ball gun."

Peterson added, "I know I caught 100 trespassers at Atlantic Technical Center. Most were skateboarders and most were juveniles. You get 'me up and they don't come back."

Now Peterson is known nationwide for not taking action following the President's comments.

The President of the BSO deputies Association said Peterson is "distraught" and believes he "did his duty" and did a good job calling in the location.

Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson should have gone into the school and killed the killer.

CBS4 News also got a look at his personnel file and discovered that in 2014, according to the website for the Broward Crime Commission, Peterson won the SRO Officer of the year award for Parkland.

The award stated, "Deputy Peterson has proven to be reliable in handling issues with tact and judgment. Deputy Peterson is also active in mentoring and counseling students."

A CBS4 News crew went to an address for Peterson in Palm Beach County on Thursday but sheriff's deputies outside the home asked the crew to leave.

As for the events on the day of the shooting, police say suspect Nikolas Cruz entered the high school's building 12 from the east side, where he  shot into four classrooms. He then took the stairs to the second floor on the west side of the building, and allegedly shot a victim in another classroom. He left behind his AR-15 in the third floor east stairwell. According to police, during the shooting, Deputy Peterson stayed outside of building 12 on the west side for about four minutes. The shooting lasted about six minutes.

CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez also reports Peterson was allegedly made aware of Cruz's behavior multiple times before the Valentine's Day shooting.

Since 2008, the Broward Sheriff's Office was involved in 23 calls involving the killer in some way, shape or form, or his brother.

According to Broward County Sheriff records, Peterson was allegedly made aware of two of those calls, including one about shooting up a school and another in which a peer counselor told Peterson that Cruz ingested gasoline in an attempt to commit suicide. It's unclear what was done with the information.

Also in November 2017, Cruz was involved in a fight with the adult son of a woman he was staying with shortly after his mother died, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office report. On Nov. 28, a 22-year-old man at the Lake Worth home told the responding deputy the he tried to calm down Cruz, who had been punching holes in walls and breaking objects, but Cruz hit him in the jaw, and the man hit Cruz back.

The deputy found Cruz a short time later at a nearby park. Cruz told the deputy he had been angry because he misplaced a photo of his recently deceased mother, and he apologized for losing his temper.

The other man told the deputy he didn't want Cruz arrested. He just wanted Cruz to calm down before coming home.

Cruz has been jailed on 17 counts of murder and has admitted to carrying out the attack. He owned a collection of weapons. Defense attorneys, state records and people who knew him have described troubling incidents going back years.

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