By Kevin Deutsch
Former Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Scot Peterson—the ex-school resource officer criminally charged for not entering Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as the 2018 massacre played out—will be allowed to visit the school in preparation for his trial defense, court records show.
The judge in Peterson’s case granted a motion allowing his Parkland school visit, during which Peterson will be accompanied by his defense attorney, Mark Eiglarsh, and his private investigator, Kevin Bolling, according to the filings.
The decision comes a little more than two weeks ahead of the fourth anniversary of the mass shooting, where gunman Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people, wounding 17 others, making MSD the scene of one of the worst school shootings in American history.
Peterson is charged with seven counts of child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence, and one count of perjury for his alleged failures to fulfill his law enforcement duties as Cruz, a former student at the school, fired upon students and teachers.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting Peterson, has already had access to the crime scene at the school to help them prepare for trial, according to the court records.
Prosecutors had no objection to Peterson visiting the school, the records state, so long as his team coordinates the visit with the Broward Sheriff’s Office, which has law enforcement jurisdiction over the school.
It was not immediately clear Friday when Peterson and his team planned to visit MSD.
The former BSO deputy has defended his actions the day of Cruz’s killings in the school’s 1200 Building, stating he did not know the killer’s location and thought the building might have been under attack from a sniper.
“I arrived at that scene, and when I got there, I heard two to three shots outside,” Peterson said last year during a news conference with his attorney. “I immediately got on my radio, and I reported ‘Shots fired.’ I then went on my school radio to lock down the school, to safeguard the 3,200 kids on that campus.”
“I’ve been trained for 30 years, you don’t stand outside when there’s gunfire right outside, so I looked for the closest position of tactical cover, which was the 700 building, and that’s where I moved to, and at that moment I became the incident commander on the scene, still not knowing at all, never knowing, that there was a shooter or shooters inside that building shooting students and staff,” Peterson said. “I never once when I was at that 700 building knew that.”
Cruz pleaded guilty to all counts in the case last year and is awaiting sentencing.
A jury will decide whether Cruz is sentenced to death or receives a life sentence. Under Florida law, a death sentence must be rendered unanimously by all 12 jurors.
The victims killed in the attack were Alyssa Alhadeff, 14; Scott Beigel, 35; Martin Duque, 14; Nicholas Dworet, 17; Aaron Feis, 37; Jaime Guttenberg, 14; Chris Hixon, 49; Luke Hoyer, 15; Cara Loughran, 14; Gina Montalto, 14; Joaquin Oliver, 17; Alaina Petty, 14; Meadow Pollack, 18; Helena Ramsay, 17; Alex Schachter, 14; Carmen Schentrup, 16; and Peter Wang, 15.
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