Parkland families applaud arrest of school officer: "This is the only thing we have wanted"

Deputy charged for Parkland shooting response

Many families of the 17 people killed during last year's school shooting in Parkland, Florida are applauding the arrest of the man whose job it was to keep students safe. Former Florida deputy Scot Peterson, the only armed school resource officer assigned to protect students, faces several charges, including child neglect. 

Peterson's attorney says the charges are "politically motivated" and is calling for them to be "dismissed immediately." But some parents believe he should've taken action instead of taking cover.

"[The arrest] is a step towards more accountability for letting my daughter get murdered," said Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter, Meadow.

After more than a year demanding Peterson be held accountable following one of the nation's worst school shootings, loved ones of the 17 students and staff killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School expressed some relief on Tuesday.

"It's absolutely a nightmare," said Max Schachter, who lost his son Alex. "And this is the only thing we have wanted, the only thing we have been fighting for."

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, died, tweeted: "…rot in hell... You could have saved some of the 17" following Peterson's arrest.

Peterson was charged following a 15-month investigation. The 56-year-old faces 11 criminal counts, including child neglect, culpable negligence, and perjury.

Surveillance footage shows Peterson never confronted the 19-year-old gunman during the February 2018 shooting. Instead, a commission report says he hid for about 48 minutes after the first shots. Peterson could be heard radioing for backup during the rampage.

"It's very painful for me to know that he had a gun, he was supposed to act," said Lori Alhadeff, who lost her daughter Alyssa. "He had a duty to act -- that was his job."

"There is a difference between cowardice and criminal activity," said Richard Swearingen, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner. "I think what you found here is they're examples of both."

In an interview a year ago, Peterson said he is not solely responsible.

"I never had a chance -- I never even thought even for a moment of being scared or a coward cause I was just doing things the whole time," he told NBC's Today.

Peterson's attorney says his client cannot be prosecuted on child neglect charges because he was not a "caregiver" of the students, such as a parent.

Peterson was jailed on a $102,000 bail. The charges against him carry a maximum potential prison sentence of nearly 100 years.