The former Broward County sheriff’s deputy who did not enter a Parkland, Florida, high school during the massacre there receives more than $100,000 in an annual pension, the state revealed, triggering outrage among the parents of slain students and renewed accusations of cowardice.
In a Wednesday statement, the Florida Department of Management Services said Scot Peterson began receiving his $8,702.35 monthly pension in April after the county attorney general, Michael Satz, found no charges against him that would force Peterson to forfeit his pension.
“The department will continue to monitor the ongoing investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and will continue to follow the law,” spokeswoman Nina Ashley told The Washington Post in the statement.
Peterson took a defense position outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and did not enter the building, even as a gunman killed 17 people in the February incident, videos released by police showed.
President Donald Trump called a Peterson a “coward,” and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he was “disgusted” and “just demoralized” by his actions. Peterson resigned Feb. 22, eight days after the killings, amid intense public scrutiny.
He served a total of 32 years as a deputy on the force.
The recent revelations about Peterson’s compensation, which would total more than $100,000 annually, sparked a backlash among two vocal parents of students killed in the Parkland shooting.
“This infuriates me in ways people cannot comprehend. My daughter would still be alive if this person did his job,” Fred Guttenberg, father of slain student Jaime Guttenberg, said in response to the news, first reported by the Sun-Sentinel.
Andrew Pollack, who lost daughter Meadow in the shooting and filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Peterson in April, also criticized the former deputy.
“The coward of broward, Scot Peterson is getting over $8k a month pension! He hid while my daughter and 16 others were slaughtered!” Pollack said on Twitter. “How in the hell is he getting this? That money should go to actually securing our schools!”
He told the Sun-Sentinel that the funds should be used for school safety measures or scholarships for wounded students.
Peterson’s attorney, Joseph A. DiRuzzo III, did not respond to a request for comment.
He has staunchly defended Peterson, saying the former deputy believed the shots were coming from outside the building.
Because of that, DiRuzzo said, Peterson “took up a tactical position” to try to assess the situation.
The video footage captured Peterson hurrying across the campus as the massacre was unfolding and then – while, police said, the shooting continued – standing outside for several minutes without seeming to take cover.
Peterson should have gone in “and addressed the killer,” Israel said. “Killed the killer.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Alex Horton