An armed sheriff’s deputy tasked with protecting students at a Florida high school waited outside during last week’s shooting massacre that killed 17 people inside, law enforcement officials said Thursday.
Scot Peterson, who was assigned to the school as a resource officer, did not enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the shooting, but instead decided to take position outside the school as the gunman walked the halls, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference.
“He never went in,” Israel said.
When asked what Peterson should have done, Israel said the deputy should have “went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer.”
Israel said that he was “devastated” by Peterson’s actions.
“Sick to my stomach. There are no words,” Israel said. “These families lost their children. We lost coaches. I've been to the funerals, I've been to the homes.... I've been to the vigils. It's just — there are no words.”
Peterson resigned Thursday after he was suspended by Israel pending an internal investigation into his actions, Israel said.
Peterson has been a resource officer at the school since 2009. He began working for the sheriff’s office in 1985. His annual salary in 2016 was $75,674, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper.
On Thursday, President Trump suggested that teachers should be armed to fend off mass shooters.
In a series of tweets, he said that “highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive.”
The FBI has said it failed to properly investigate a tip it received last month about Nikolas Cruz, the suspected gunman in the massacre at the school in Parkland, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. The agency said proper "protocols were not followed" in investigating Cruz, who has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and is being held without bond.
Last week, Israel said his office had responded to “20 calls for service” in recent years about Cruz, who had lived with his mother until her death in November.
Israel said Thursday that two sheriff’s deputies have been placed on “restrictive duty” while the sheriff's office investigates their actions during calls to Cruz’s home before the shooting.