Security video shows Florida sheriff's deputy stayed outside during school shooting

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

While a gunman shot 17 people, Scot Peterson remained outside with his handgun drawn

Deputy sheriff stayed outside during school shooting

4 years ago
Police say this security video shows former Broward County sheriff's deputy Scot Peterson, circled, during the Feb. 14 rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 5:19

Security video shows a Florida sheriff's deputy go toward the high school building while a gunman massacred 17 students and staff members inside, 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 golf cart. He pulls his weapon and takes up a position outside the building.

The video speaks for itself.— Broward County Sheriff's Office

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.

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

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

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, and 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.

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

Prosecutors to seek death penalty

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.

Family and friends of victims watch as shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz is led into a courtroom for an arraignment hearing at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Wednesday. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

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.

'There's blood all over'

"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.

Nikolas Cruz is led out of the courtroom after the arraignment hearing. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

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 getting the wounded help 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.