First deputy at Florida school shooting disregarded training, investigator says

The first deputy on the scene of the deadly shooting at a Florida high school last month disregarded his training by failing to enter the school and confront the gunman, a senior sheriff's official said Thursday.

The officer, former Broward County sheriff's Deputy Scot Peterson, alerted dispatchers to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14 within two minutes of its being reported to 911, according to audio dispatches released by the sheriff's office on Thursday.

But instead of rushing into the school, where he was assigned as a resource officer, Peterson remained outside and began radioing orders for fellow deputies to seal off the roads and intersections around the campus.

Eleven minutes elapsed before sheriff's deputies and Coral Springs police officers finally entered the building, the dispatch audio indicates. By then, the suspected gunman, Nikolas Cruz, had already fled the scene.

Reaction to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida
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Reaction to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida

**Click through the following slides to see how lawmakers and well-known figures responded to the shooting on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.**

(John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavi…
We are grieving with Parkland. But we are not powerless. Caring for our kids is our first job. And until we can hon…
No words, no actions, no laws are enough until we end this epidemic of school shootings in our country. My heart is…
My heart is broken again — this time for the victims of the Parkland school shooting, and the families whose childr…
My heart is heavy over the school shooting in Florida. Keeping all affected in my thoughts & prayers.
April 16, 2007, was the worst day of my life—when 32 people were shot and killed at Virginia Tech. Nearly 11 years…
Imagine your child never coming home from school. Then imagine having to tell that story to every new person you me…
Don't tell me tomorrow isn't the appropriate time to debate gun violence. If you're a political leader doing nothin…
I am at a loss for what more to say. I grieve with the families in Parkland today. I grieve with the families acros…
Heard the word “tragedy” 100 times already about the school shooting - not really, by the classical definition: tra…
Praying for the innocent lives lost, their families and the Parkland, Florida community in the wake of today’s unspeakable tragedy.
Broward school shooting--There will be prayers from Blabbermouth Don, Pence the Grinch, and their rightwing cohorts…
Another senseless tragedy at an American school. My heart is with the victims and their families. When will we wake…
Praying for everyone at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Just spoke with Broward Undersheriff to ensure they h…
Sending my love to #parkland. #guncontrol #policyandchange
Just spoke with @POTUS about shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. My thoughts and prayers are with the…
The accounts from today's school shooting in Parkland, Florida strike fear into all Americans. Is it safe to send o…
We owe it to our children and our teachers to keep them safe while at school. Prayers won't do this: action will. C…
Sen. Chris Murphy addresses Florida school shooting on Senate floor: "Let me just note once again for my colleagues…
Heartbroken over the news of another school shooting. This is the 18th in 45 days of 2018. Students & teachers shou…
Yeah, it’s pretty rough to talk about shootings right after they happen. I know if someone was burning down house…
I’m horrified by the reports coming from Parkland, Florida. Please take a moment to pray for the victims and first…
Relieved that the shooter is in custody. Praying for the victims and their families during this harrowing experien…
Please join me in praying for the students, faculty, and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as…
It’s so easy these days to just scroll by a story like this. But this is developing and we should pay attention. Th…
Devastating news from Florida. As further details emerge, join me in praying for everyone at Marjory Stoneman Dougl…
My heart deeply hurts for the children and their families in South Florida that are going through a living hell. T…
Another school shooting. Sad. Prayers to the families #ParklandShooting
Just reading about the shooting at the High School in Parkland, Florida. Thoughts & prayers with all those affecte…
As we send our thoughts & prayers to the people of Parkland, Florida how about we, the people & govt of America, ac…
My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or an…
We have to do more to protect our children our teachers our families our people, no Matter what ! 🙏🇺🇸
We’ve been praying. It’s time to work. It’s time to change. Faith + works. Prayer + action.
Prayers to everyone in Parkland Florida 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
If people can blame drug dealers for the drug problem then we can blame the @NRA for the mass shooting problem.
Today is the day that inevitably comes when your prayers don't do anything to prevent it, but your vote might.
These lawmakers took the most money $$ from the @NRA
Praying for all impacted by the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward, especially th…
My heart goes out to the victims who were killed or injured, and their families, in the school shooting in Florida.
If people can blame drug dealers for the drug problem then we can blame the @NRA for the mass shooting problem.
Our prayers go out to the families and friends of victims in Florida.
My heart goes out to all those affected by the shooting in Florida. I am praying for these precious children and th…
My heart breaks again today at news of the school shooting in Florida. It's long past time for action to stop the g…
Lots of people lamenting "nothing will change" today. That's what people said before the Montgomery boycott. Th…
As we rise this morning let us pray for the victims and families of this horrific tragedy that has fallen on our co…
Our community has suffered devastating tragedy. We lost sons, daughters, teachers, coaches, friends, neighbors, bro…
Prayers without accordant action are silent lies told to oneself, heard by no God, amounting to nothing. Action is…
Like thousands in South Florida, we sent the boys to school in Broward County this morning... there are no words to…
Just heard the tragic news about Florida. My heart breaks for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.…
Our hearts are shattered by the terrible news about Parkland… love you so so much Florida ❤️

Col. Jack Dale, head of the department's criminal investigations and internal affairs units, said Thursday that the audio dispatches make it clear that Peterson had disregarded the training deputies undergo for such situations.

"First, interrupt the shooter, and that is the primary mission of an active shooter response," Dale said in an interview with NBC Miami. "When an active shooter ceases, then those secondary responses become appropriate."

Related: Fight, flight or freeze? Officers rarely fail to confront threat, experts say

Complicating the initial response was that Broward sheriff's deputies and Coral Springs police use different radio channels, so "anything that occurred on the Coral Springs channel would not be able to heard by the deputies on the scene and vice versa,” Dale said.

Still, he said, "I don't know that any chaotic scene like this ever goes perfectly."

Peterson, 54 — whom President Donald Trump called a "coward" last month — was suspended without pay and soon resigned, the sheriff's office said a week after the shooting.

25 fatal school shootings since Columbine
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25 fatal school shootings since Columbine

April 20, 1999 - Columbine High School 

Photo Credit: Reuters

Nov. 20, 1999 - Deming Middle School, New Mexico 

(photo by Joe Raedle)

 February 29, 2000 - Buell Elementary School, Michigan 

Photo Credit: Reuters 

May 26, 2000 - Lake Worth Middle School, Florida 

Photo Credit: Reuters 

March 5, 2001 - Santana High School, California 

Photo Credit: REUTERS/Mike Blake MB/RCS

April 25, 2003 - Red Lion Area Junior High School, Pennsylvania

Photo Credit: Reuters 

September 24, 2003 - Rocori High School, Minnesota 

Photo Credit: Getty 

March 21, 2005. Red Lake High School, Minnesota

REUTERS/John Gress 

November 8, 2005 - Campbell County Comprehensive High School, Tennessee 

Photo Credit: Getty 

 Aug. 24, 2006 - Essex Elementary School, Vermont

 Photo Credit: Getty 

September 29, 2006 - Weston High School, Wisconsin 

(Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)

October 2, 2006 - West Nickel Mines School, Pennsylvania 

(Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

January 5, 2011 - Millard South High School, Nebraska 

Photo Credit: Getty

February 27, 2012 - Chardon High School, Ohio

REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk 

December 14, 2012 - Sandy Hook Elementary, Connecticut 

 (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

October 21, 2013 - Sparks Middle School, Nevada. 

(Photo by David Calvert/Getty Images)

December 13, 2013 -  Arapahoe High School, Colorado

REUTERS/Rick Wilking 

June 10, 2014  - Reynolds High School, Oregon

(Photo by Natalie Behring/Getty Images)

October 24, 2014 -  Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Washington


February 12, 2016 - Independence High School, Arizona 

Photo Credit: Getty 

September 28, 2016 - Townville Elementary, South Carolina

(Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

April 10, 2017 - North Park Elementary School, California 

 (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

September 13, 2017 - Freeman High School, Washington

Photo Credit: Getty 

January 23, 2018 - Marshall County High School, Kentucky

REUTERS/Harrison McClary

February 14, 2018 - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


His attorney said at the time that Peterson "is confident that his actions on that day were appropriate under the circumstances" and that all of the evidence, taken as a whole, "will exonerate him of any sub-par performance."

A circuit grand jury this week formally indicted Cruz, 19, on 34 counts: 17 on first-degree murder for the 17 people who were killed and 17 on attempted first-degree murder for the 17 people who were injured. Cruz initially pleaded not guilty last month, but he withdrew the plea on Thursday and said he would "stand mute" on the charges.

His public defenders said in a court filing that Cruz's earlier plea was filed "prematurely" and that "having now been indicted by the Grand Jury, the Defendant Nikolas Cruz withdraws that filing and Stands Mute to the Charges."

Standing mute is different from pleading nolo contendere, or "no contest," which courts treat as the equivalent of a guilty plea.

Standard procedure when a defendant stands mute is for the judge to enter a not guilty plea on the defendant's behalf — allowing the defendant to enter no plea while reserving the right to contest the charges later at a trial.

The Broward County Public Defender's Office last month said Cruz would plead guilty and spare families the pain of a trial if prosecutors promise not to pursue the death penalty. 

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