Ex-deputy charged for not responding to Florida school shooting remains in jail: judge

Booking photo of former Florida sheriff's deputy Scot Peterson, in Fort Lauderdale

(Reuters) - The former Florida sheriff's deputy criminally charged for his lack of response to the 2018 mass shooting at a Parkland high school that left 17 dead will remain in jail on $102,000 bond, a bail court judge ordered on Wednesday.

Scot Peterson, 56, was arrested Tuesday on 11 charges of neglect and negligence for remaining outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the attack. He was booked into the Broward County jail.

Peterson, who lives in North Carolina, is the first police officer to be criminally charged for his response to an active shooter situation, his attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo, said.

Felony and misdemeanor charges against Peterson include seven counts of child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury.

Peterson was a Broward County deputy on duty as a school resource officer when Nikolas Cruz, 19, allegedly entered the school building on Feb. 14, 2018, and opened fire. At the time, Peterson was the only armed guard on the campus in Parkland, Florida.

Seventeen students and staffers were killed and 17 were wounded.

Cruz, a student who had been expelled from the school, was arrested and is awaiting trial on multiple murder charges.

A lengthy investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found that after hearing gunshots ring out, Peterson, who was trained to immediately confront an active shooter, failed to investigate their source and retreated to take cover, according to his arrest warrant.

"Had this individual done his job, lives would have been saved," said U.S. Senator Rick Scott, who was governor of Florida when the shooting happened.

Three weeks after the shooting, Scott signed into law a bill imposing a 21-year-old legal age requirement and three-day waiting period on all gun purchases and allowing the arming of some school employees.

Peterson has insisted he responded properly by notifying police and assisting a school lockdown. He told the Washington Post, "It just happened, and I started reacting."

Peterson resigned a week after the shooting. Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said on Tuesday he had fired Peterson and another deputy, Brian Miller, saying they had neglected their duties during the shooting.


(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)