Armed officer at Florida high school failed to stop shooter

An armed officer assigned to the Florida high school failed to confront the attacker during last week's shooting which left 17 people dead 

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel addresses a conference in Florida on Wednesday (Photo: NY Times)
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel addresses a conference in Florida on Wednesday (Photo: NY Times)

An armed officer assigned to the Florida school where a gunman killed 17 people last week stood outside the building during the shooting and did not go in to engage the shooter, the local sheriff says.

Scott Israel, the Broward County sheriff, Scott Israel, said that Deputy Scott Peterson, who was the school resource officer at Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida, resigned from the department on Thursday after being told he would be suspended, Israel said.

School resource officers are police officers who are responsible for safety and crime prevention in schools, the US government says.

There are between 14,000 and 20,000 such officers in the US, according to the National Association of School Resource Officers.

"I am devastated. Sick to my stomach. He never went in," Sheriff Israel said.

Sheriff Israel said Peterson was on campus, armed and in uniform when the shooting at the High School campus in Parkland began.

He said video footage showed Peterson arriving at the building where the shooting was taking place about 90 seconds after the first shots were fired and that he remained outside for about four minutes. The attack lasted six minutes, Sheriff Israel said.

When asked what Peterson should have done, Israel said the deputy should have “went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer”.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, fatally shot 17 people at the high school on 14 February in the second deadliest shooting at an American public school.

 Scott Israel, the Broward County sheriff, with Donald Trump.
Scott Israel, the Broward County sheriff, with Donald Trump.

America's Gun laws

The student survivors, supported by their families and teachers, have spoken out against Washington’s inaction and statements by the president.

Earlier this week, US president Donald Trump insisted that arming school teachers could prevent school shootings.

The proposal of arming teachers has long been championed by the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) gun lobby.

On Thursday, in the NRA's first comments since the massacre, its head accused Democrats and media of "exploiting" the attack. Wayne LaPierre said "opportunists" were using the tragedy to expand gun control and abolish US gun rights.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington on Thursday,  LaPierre reiterated that his group backed arming teachers.

He said: “We must immediately harden our schools. Every day young children are being dropped off at schools that are virtually wide open, soft targets for anyone bent on mass murder. It should not be easier for a madman to shoot up a school than a bank or jewellery store or some Hollywood gala.”

“Schools should be the hardest target in this country. Evil must be confronted with all necessary force to protect our kids.”

Trump also repeatedly backed the proposal.

Discussing school safety with state and local officials on Thursday, he explained why he believed that it would work, saying: "Shooters won't walk into a school if 20% of people have guns."

Trump added: "What I'd recommend doing is the people that do carry, we give them a bonus. We give them a little bit of a bonus."

The President of the American Federation of Teachers union, Randi Weingarten, disagreed with arming teachers.

"Anyone who wants guns in schools has no understanding of what goes on inside them - or worse, doesn't care," she said.

More in World

Get access to the real stories first with the digital edition

Subscribe