Scot Peterson, the sheriff's deputy who did not enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., to engage the shooter during the February massacre, is pushing back on perceptions about his actions.
“How can they keep saying I did nothing?” Peterson recently asked his girlfriend, Lydia Rodriguez, according to a Washington Post report published Monday.
“I’m getting on the radio to call in the shooting. I’m locking down the school. I’m clearing kids out of the courtyard. They have the video and the call logs. The evidence is sitting right there.”
Surveillance video of the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 people dead, including students and faculty, shows Peterson staying outside the building during the shooting.
The deputy has said he was unsure if the shots were coming from inside the building or outside, and took cover in a tactical position based on his training, according to the Post.
Peterson has been highly criticized — including by the Broward County sheriff and President TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE — for what many viewed as his lack of action during the shooting.
“There wasn’t even time to think,” Peterson told the Post. “It just happened, and I started reacting.”
In the newspaper's profile, Peterson questions how he only remembers hearing two or three shots as well as what he could have done if he had known where to find the shooter.
“It’s haunting,” Peterson said. “I’ve cut that day up a thousand ways with a million different what-if scenarios, but the bottom line is I was there to protect, and I lost 17.”
When one of his neighbors tries to reassure him that “it’s not all on you,” Peterson responds by pointing out that the public’s view of him is different.
“But that’s the perception,” Peterson said. “You’re a hero or a coward, and that’s it.”