Disgraced Florida sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson claimed he failed to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during last month’s shooting because he believed the massacre was actually taking place outside, but radio dispatches released by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office suggest he knew otherwise.
According to the dispatches, Peterson radioed that the gunfire was occurring “inside” the building and even warned other deputies to stay away as Nikolas Cruz gunned down 17 people and injured over a dozen more.
“Be advised we have possible, could be firecrackers. I think we have shots fired, possible shots fired — 1200 building,” he radioed after the school’s fire alarm was triggered. “We’re talking about the 1200 building; it’s going to be the building off Holmberg Road. Get the school locked down, gentlemen.”
As the shots continued to ring out, other deputies began racing to the school, one of whom believed he heard the shots coming from the football field. In a statement released by his attorney, Peterson argued, “BSO trains its officers that in the event of outdoor gunfire one is to seek cover and assess the situation in order to communicate what one observes with other law enforcement.” However, the radio timeline suggests he knew the shooting was happening inside the building at that point and warned the other deputies to stay away.
“All right … We also heard it’s by, inside the 1200,” he said, adding just after the shooter ditched his AR-15 and left the scene, “Do not approach the 12 or 1300 building; stay at least 500 feet away.”
The radio dispatches appear to support Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel’s assertion that Peterson should have entered the building and engaged the shooter. They also appear to explain why the three other deputies who arrived at the scene also failed to enter the building in which the massacre was taking place — something Coral Springs Police Department officers were surprised to discover upon their arrival.
The sheriff’s office released the dispatches and timeline of events on Thursday following pressure from the public to reveal the details of the tragedy. Additionally, the office agreed in court on Thursday to release the surveillance footage of the shooting after several publications sued the agency to force its release.
“BSO agreed in court today with the media that surveillance video from outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High should be released publicly,” the sheriff’s office announced. “Legal exemptions block the release unless a judge approves. The judge took it under advisement and we hope for a ruling shortly.”