Footage of deputy sheriff branded a 'coward' for not entering Parkland school released
A little over one month ago, 17 lives were lost when a 19-year-old man armed with a semiautomatic weapon shot at students and teachers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida. The incident caused worldwide debate over the USA's attitude towards gun regulations, and prompted several survivors of the shooting to come forward and campaign for stricter gun control.
However, once again, opponents of tougher firearms regulations turned to old arguments; blaming mental health problems as the cause of the staggeringly high numbers of mass shootings in the states, and arguing that, actually, the country needs more guns to tackle the problem. After all, who's going to stop a bad guy with a gun if not a good guy with a gun?
Unfortunately, the flaw in that argument is that the high school in Parkland did have a good guy - armed sheriff's deputy, Scot Peterson.
After Peterson was identified, many people came forward to call him a coward, and accused him of not doing his job when he failed to apprehend the shooter. Donald Trump himself put the guard on blast, saying that he would have run into the school "even without a gun".
The sheriff's deputy was subsequently suspended after the shooting, but he quit before an official investigation was allowed to take place.
Despite this, Peterson's lawyer, Joseph DiRuzzo III, insists that he was not cowardly at all.
"Let there be no mistake, Mr. Peterson wishes that he could have prevented the untimely passing of the seventeen victims on that day, and his heart goes out to the families of the victims in their time of need," DiRuzzo said.
"However, the allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue. Mr. Peterson is confident that his actions on that day were appropriate under the circumstances and that the video (together with the eye-witness testimony of those on the scene) will exonerate him of any sub-par performance."
Now, surveillance footage from the incident has emerged.
The full clip actually lasts for 30 minutes, during which time Peterson could be seen alerting another member of staff about the shooting and heading towards the gunfire, but failing to enter the building at any point.
While taking cover outside, Peterson did provide frequent updates via the police radio, and was successful in directing other officers and asking for nearby streets to be closed off in order to hinder the shooter's escape and prevent further victims.
In one of the earliest radio messages, he said, "Be advised we have possible, could be firecrackers, I think we have shots fired, possible shots fired by the 1200 building." Then, later on, he said, "We also heard it’s by— inside the 1200 building."
While it's easy to shift all the blame onto one person - and Peterson can't deny that he didn't act as expected - it must also be remembered that Nicolas Cruz purchased his weapon legally, and it is impossible to anticipate how one will react when placed in a terrifying situation like this.