Gun violence in the US

Armed deputy at Florida school was a ‘coward’ for not intervening in shooting, says Donald Trump

Trump called out the school resource officer – Scot Peterson – by name for not intervening in the Florida school shooting

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 February, 2018, 11:34pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 3:28am

US President Donald Trump on Friday cast doubt on the character of an armed deputy who failed to intervene during last week’s school shooting in Florida, saying he froze or was a “coward.”

“They’re trained, they didn’t react properly under pressure or they were a coward,” Trump said, calling out the school resource officer, Scot Peterson, by name.

“When it came time to get in there and do something he didn’t have the courage or something happened,” Trump said. “But he certainly did a poor job. There’s no question about that.”

The Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Thursday that Peterson was present during the Valentine’s Day rampage that left 14 pupils and three teachers dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but did not act to stop it.

Peterson resigned after being suspended without pay.

Peterson, who was on duty and in uniform as the school’s resource officer, was the only law enforcement officer present on February 14 when the rampage started, Israel said.

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Peterson’s actions were caught on video during the massacre, which ranks as the second deadliest shooting ever at a US public school, carried out by a lone gunman wielding a semi-automatic assault rifle similar to an AR-15.

“What I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of Building 12, take up a position and he never went in,” Israel said, referring to the building on campus, popularly known as the “freshman building,” where authorities said the bulk of the shooting occurred.

Israel told reporters the shooting in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Parkland lasted six minutes, and that Peterson arrived at the freshman building about 90 seconds after the first shots were fired, then lingered outside for at least four minutes.

Asked what the deputy should have done, Israel replied: “Went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.”

Peterson has not given a reason for why he did not enter the building, Israel said.

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On Thursday he doubled down on the National Rifle Association’s long-standing position that armed Americans were the first line of defence in confronting deadly attacks, saying: “To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun.”

The US Congress has long been deadlocked on the gun debate, accomplishing nothing despite a spate of mass shootings and polls showing that Americans support stricter gun laws by a two-to-one margin.