Video confirms deputy didn't confront Parkland school gunman

by Kristen Dahlgren and Corky Siemaszko /  / Updated 

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

Video footage released Thursday from the Florida school where 17 people were killed on Valentine's Day appears to confirm that a sheriff’s deputy did not try to confront the gunman accused of staging the massacre.

In fact, it does not show disgraced Broward County Deputy Scot Peterson doing much of anything.

In the opening minutes, Peterson is seen walking and talking with what looks like a staffer at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. A short time later the two of them ride out of view in a golf cart.

The bulk of the 27-minute video released by authorities is of an empty sidewalk at the school.

"It's a sinking feeling knowing that he went towards the building and ran away from it when he was already there," Stoneman Douglas sophomore Tanzil Philip told NBC News after watching the footage. "Even if he didn't hurt the shooter, he could have saved people that were injured."

Philip said he is angry at the deputy but also feels some sympathy for him. He said he doesn't know what he would have done if he were in Peterson's shoes.

"There's always a bunch of what-if questions, so we never know, but I feel like he would've went inside it wouldn't have been as bad," he said. "I'm sure he feels awful about this."

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel suspended Peterson last month after viewing the footage. Peterson later tendered his resignation.

That announcement triggered public outrage against Peterson, with President Donald Trump calling it “disgusting" that the deputy made no attempt to stop accused 19-year-old gunman Nikolas Cruz from allegedly shooting up the school.

Peterson’s lawyer, however, said Israel “maligned” the deputy by saying he should have tried to engage the teenage gunman.

Israel had said that Peterson was seen on video arriving at the west side of a building, but “he never went in.”

Peterson, the sheriff said, should have “addressed the killer, killed the killer.”

The revelation that Peterson didn’t, Israel said, left him "devastated. Sick to my stomach. There are no words I mean these families lost their children."

Cruz was hit with a 34-count indictment, including 17 first-degree murder charges.

Dahlgren reported from Parkland, Florida, Siemaszko from New York City.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news