Officer ‘failed to confront’ school killer

BBC News:  

An armed officer assigned to the Florida school where a gunman killed 17 people last week stood outside the building during the shooting and did not intervene, the local sheriff says.

Deputy Scot Peterson has resigned after being suspended, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.

“I am devastated. Sick to my stomach. He never went in,” Sheriff Israel said.

Earlier this week President Trump said arming school teachers could prevent school shootings.

The proposal has long been championed by the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) gun lobby.

On Thursday, in the NRA’s first comments since the massacre, its head accused Democrats and media of “exploiting” the attack. Wayne LaPierre said “opportunists” were using the tragedy to expand gun control and abolish US gun rights.

What did the officer do?

Sheriff Israel said Mr Peterson, 54, was the school resource officer of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and was at the site, armed and in uniform, when the shooting took place.

He said video footage showed Mr Peterson arriving at the building where the shooting broke out about 90 seconds after the first shots were fired, and that he remained outside for about four minutes. The attack lasted six minutes, Sheriff Israel said.

Asked what Mr Peterson should have done, Sheriff Israel said: “Went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer.”

Mr Peterson is yet to publicly comment on what happened. Officers are reportedly guarding his home.

Sheriff Israel said Mr Peterson had not given a reason for why he did not go into the building where the shooter was. It is unclear if he will face charges.

Sheriff Israel said he would not be releasing the video showing Mr Peterson and might never do so, “depending on the prosecution and criminal case” against the 19-year-old suspect accused of carrying out the shooting, former student Nikolas Cruz.

The gunman used a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, police say, and escaped the scene before being seen and arrested later.

Why was Deputy Peterson there?

School resource officers are sworn law enforcement officers who are responsible for safety and crime prevention in schools, although their exact roles differ from school to school and authority to authority.

Employed by the local police or sheriff’s office, they document incidents and can make arrests, as well as working on areas such as mentoring and education.

There are between 14,000 and 20,000 such officers in the US, according to the National Association of School Resource Officers.

Mr Peterson had been in his position at the school since 2009, local media report.

The Sun-Sentinel newspaper said he had worked for the sheriff’s office since 1985 and office records showed his salary for 2016 was $75,673 (£54,137).

 

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