Video shows SRO outside building during Parkland massacre

The Broward County Sheriff's Office released the video Thursday showing Deputy Scot Peterson's actions during the Feb. 14 shooting


By Terry Spencer
Associated Press

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Security video shows a Florida sheriff's deputy go toward the high school building while a gunman massacred 17 students and staff members, but he stayed outside with his handgun drawn.

The Broward County Sheriff's Office released the video Thursday showing Deputy Scot Peterson's actions during the Feb. 14 shooting. It shows him and a staff member rushing toward the building in a cart. He pulls his weapon and takes up a position outside the building.

This Feb. 14, 2018 frame from security video provided by the Broward County Sheriff's Office shows deputy Scot Peterson, right, outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The video released Thursday, March 15, shows Peterson going toward the high school building while a gunman massacred 17 students and staff members, but stayed outside with his handgun drawn. (Courtesy of the Broward County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This Feb. 14, 2018 frame from security video provided by the Broward County Sheriff's Office shows deputy Scot Peterson, right, outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The video released Thursday, March 15, shows Peterson going toward the high school building while a gunman massacred 17 students and staff members, but stayed outside with his handgun drawn. (Courtesy of the Broward County Sheriff's Office via AP)

During much of the shooting, the camera's view of Peterson is blocked by a light pole but parts of him occasionally appear. He never went inside.

Sheriff Scott Israel blasted Peterson eight days after the shooting, saying Peterson should have "went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer."

The 54-year-old deputy retired rather than accept a suspension. He is still being investigated by internal affairs.

Peterson has denied wrongdoing. In a statement issued through his lawyer shortly after his retirement, he said he thought the shots were being fired from outside the school. The video released Thursday did not have sound.

But in radio transmissions released last week it appears the 32-year veteran deputy knew almost immediately they were coming from inside the freshman building.

The sheriff's office said in a statement, "The video speaks for itself."

A Florida judge earlier this week agreed with news outlets including The Associated Press that the video should be released.

Police and school officials had resisted the release, saying it was evidence in an active investigation. Video of what happened inside the school was not released.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, faces 34 murder and attempted murder charges in the attack and a judge entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf Wednesday as students across the nation walked out of school to protest gun violence.

His attorney, Assistant Public Defender Melisa McNeill, reiterated that Cruz would plead guilty if prosecutors waived the death penalty, which they refused to do.

While Cruz sat in the courtroom, more details of the shooting emerged as the Coral Springs Police Department released recordings of 911 calls and police radio traffic.

In the recordings, students and dispatchers were uncertain about the shooter's location and how to hide from him.

Some were frightened the gunman would return to their location when asked if they could perform CPR on the wounded.

"Please, please, please, there are people here. They are bleeding. They are all going to die," a teenage girl calling from classroom 1216 said through tears and heavy breathing. "There's a lot of people around us that are injured, people that are injured, people that are bleeding. He is upstairs now."

A teacher from room 1216 also called for help and told the 911 operator that a student had been hit in the chest, and wasn't breathing.

"He's twitching. There's blood all over," she said.

The police radio recordings showed that the Coral Springs police officers were the first to enter the school building after confirming that Broward County Sheriff's Office deputies had not gone in.

As they cleared each of the building's three floors, the officers described seeing shell casings on the floor and bullet holes in the windows.

They warned that the suspect may have changed clothes after they reported finding a camouflaged jacket, ski mask and backpack on the first floor.

On the third floor, officers said they found an AR-15 with a magazine still attached.

The officers found wounded victims and bodies, and they prioritized evacuating the wounded before allowing other students and teachers to leave. On the third floor, they said they shattered windows in some locked classroom doors because terrified students would not open doors.

Cruz was arrested a few blocks away from the school.

 

Associated Press
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