Scot Peterson Charged with Perjury, Neglect During Parkland Shooting
Authorities said Peterson would not have been able to help the 11 victims on the ground level of the school but could have played a role in saving the victims on the third floor.
Former school resource officer Scot Peterson was arrested on Tuesday for his inaction during last year’s school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
On Wednesday, Peterson was charged with seven counts of child neglect with great bodily harm, three counts of culpable negligence and exposure to harm and one count of perjury, reports the Sun Sentinel.
While 17 people were gunned down by a 19-year-old former student, Peterson did not enter the building. Investigators believe he was the closest person to the gunman during the shooting.
Authorities said that Peterson, 57, would not have been able to help the 11 victims who were murdered on the ground level of the school, but could have played a role in saving the victims on the third floor.
Ten of the 11 charges against the former officer stem from the killings and injuries that took place on the third floor. The perjury charge comes after he lied in a sworn statement to investigators.
These charges could put Peterson in prison for 97 years, though some experts believe some of the charges will be difficult to prove in court.
Many emotional parents of victims were present at the court hearing.
“He should rot, that’s how I feel,” said Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was on the third floor when she died. “My daughter was one of the last to be shot. My daughter absolutely could have been saved by him and she wasn’t.”
Cross-country coach Scott Biegel also lost his life on the third floor.
His mother Linda Schulman believes if Peterson intervened, her son would be alive.
“One hundred percent had he done something, the active shooter would not have made it to the third floor, had he done his job, instead of standing outside like a coward,” she said.
Peterson’s attorney claims the arrest is for “spurious charges that lack basis in fact and law” and called for them to be dismissed immediately.
The arrest followed a 15-month investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Broward State’s Attorney’s Office.
It showed how Peterson refused to investigate where the gunshots were coming from, retreated during the gunfire, remained in his hiding place for 48 minutes and instructed other law enforcement who arrived on scene to remain 500 feet away from the building, according to FDLE spokeswoman Jessica Cary.
“There can be no excuse for his complete inaction and no question that his inaction cost lives,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen.
Judge Jack Powell set bond for Peterson at $102,000 as well as the surrendering of his passport.