By Nicole Darrah, Gregg Re, Lucia Suarez Sang, ,
Published February 25, 2018
The home of the former school resource deputy who stayed outside the Florida high school as last week’s massacre unfolded was being protected Friday by law enforcement officials — even as President Trump called out the ex-cop, suggesting he was a "coward."
Reporters who attempted to approach the West Palm Beach home of ex-Broward County Sheriff's Office Deputy Scot Peterson were reportedly met with resistance from at least six police officers who were standing guard outside.
“They prevented us from approaching the house,” WSVN’s Frank Guzman tweeted Thursday.
An Associated Press reporter said he approached Peterson’s home Thursday night, seeing lights on inside and cars present. He rang the doorbell twice, but no one answered.
Before departing for his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday morning, Trump, in a set of fiery remarks, lambasted Peterson.
"When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn't have the courage, or something happened," Trump said. "He certainly did a poor job. That's the case where somebody was outside, they are trained, they didn't react properly under pressure or they were a coward."
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson, who was armed when gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, “never went in[to]” the building that was under attack. He said the school resource officer instead took up a position viewing the western entrance of the building.
Israel said he was “devastated, sick to my stomach” after learning of Peterson’s inaction during the school shooting that left 17 people dead. The sheriff said he believes Peterson remained outside the building for roughly four minutes, while the shooting in total lasted around six minutes. Israel said the officer never fired his weapon.
"What matters is that when we, in law enforcement, arrive at an active shooter, we go in and address the target," the sheriff said. "And that’s what should’ve been done."
When asked what Peterson should have done, Israel said the deputy should have "went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer."
He added: “There are no words. I mean, these families lost their children...I've been to the funerals...I've been to the vigils. It's just, ah, there are no words."
Peterson resigned Thursday after video surveillance showed he never entered the school, even though he “clearly” knew there was a shooting taking place, officials said.
Officer Tim Burton of the Coral Springs Police Department, who responded to the shooting, told The New York Times that Peterson “was seeking cover behind a concrete column leading to a stairwell.”
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office confirmed to WTVJ that Peterson's family requested privacy and protection following Peterson's resignation.
Student Jenna Jorsten told WSVN that she was “in shock” Peterson stayed outside -- especially after learning of unarmed teachers and students risking their lives to save others.
“If he’s the one with a gun, he should be the one out there with the gun trying to protect the kids,” she said. “Why was he hiding outside? It just makes no sense to me whatsoever. I mean it just doesn’t make sense to me at all.”
Cruz, 19, has been jailed on 17 counts of murder and police said he confessed to being the shooter. Defense attorneys, state records and people who knew him indicate Cruz displayed behavioral troubles for years.
Two other deputies from the Broward County Sheriff's Office have been placed on restrictive duty as officials investigate "whether or not they could have done more, should’ve done more."
The officers were identified by WSVN as Edward Eason and Guntis Treijis.
Their restricted assignments come as authorities found they responded to at least 23 calls regarding Cruz or his brother since 2008. In two of the instances, Col. Jack Dale said, protocol might not have been followed.
Israel said an investigation remains ongoing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.