According to a supervisor’s testimony on Thursday, a former sheriff’s deputy in Florida failed to follow his extensive training on handling active shooters during the tragic Parkland high school massacre that claimed the lives of 17 people, Your Content has learned.
Lt. Col. Sam Samaroo, a former training commander at Broward County, revealed that Deputy Scot Peterson had undergone rigorous training, including simulations and live actor scenarios, prior to the February 14, 2018, incident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Peterson was specifically instructed to confront the shooter, even if he was alone and without backup.
Lt. Col. Samaroo, who served in the agency’s training unit from 2013 to 2018, emphasized that deputies were taught that active shooters, when faced with confrontation, would either barricade themselves, surrender, or engage in a gunfight with authorities, providing civilians an opportunity to escape or find shelter.
Therefore, immediate action was essential, and deputies were urged to approach the sound of gunshots promptly to “force an outcome.
Samaroo added that time was a critical factor, as it directly correlated to the number of potential victims.
Peterson, who was stationed on campus as the school’s deputy, maintains that he did not enter the three-story classroom building where former student Nikolas Cruz carried out his attack because he couldn’t determine the exact source of the gunshots due to echoes.
He approached the building’s doors approximately one minute after the shooting began but retreated and sought cover next to a neighboring structure.
Peterson remained in that position for 40 minutes, well after the shooting had ceased.
Samaroo dismissed Peterson’s claim, asserting that not knowing the shooter’s precise location should not have prevented the deputy from taking action.
He argued that Peterson would have been able to gather clues about the shooter’s whereabouts if he had moved, such as the smell of gunpowder, bullet casings, trails of blood, and people fleeing in a specific direction.
Samaroo stated that these sensory cues should have triggered a proactive response.
During cross-examination, Samaroo conceded that the training scenarios provided deputies with information about the location of the simulated shooter, unlike the real-life situation where multiple possibilities and external echoes can create uncertainty.
The key focus of the trial is determining what Peterson heard and observed during the shooting.
He faces charges of child neglect for failing to confront Cruz before the gunman reached the third floor of the classroom building, resulting in the deaths of six victims.
Peterson is not implicated in the deaths of the 11 individuals who were killed on the first floor before he arrived at the scene.
If convicted on the most severe charge of felony child neglect, the 60-year-old Peterson could face a sentence of nearly 100 years in prison and the loss of his $104,000 annual pension.
With almost three decades of experience working in schools, including nine years at Stoneman Douglas, Peterson retired shortly after the shooting but was subsequently terminated.
Throughout the trial’s initial week, prosecutors presented witnesses such as students, teachers, and law enforcement officers who shared their firsthand accounts of the horrifying ordeal and highlighted their awareness of Cruz’s location.
To secure a conviction for child neglect, prosecutors must establish that Peterson held legal responsibility for the juvenile students, as defined by Florida law as a “parent, adult household member, or other person responsible for a child’s welfare.”
Additionally, jurors must determine whether Peterson made reasonable efforts to protect the children or failed to provide the necessary care.
Peterson’s case marks the first instance of a U.S. law enforcement officer facing charges for an alleged failure to act during a school shooting.
Similarly, authorities in Texas are investigating officers in Uvalde who did not confront the shooter responsible for the, according U.S.News.