Blasting a hole in President Donald Trump’s argument that arming a school like a bank would prevent kids with semi-automatic weapons from shooting up schools, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel acknowledged the armed deputy at Parkland, FL’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School never entered the building where last week’s slayings were occurring.
Didn’t do much for NRA chief Wayne LaPierre’s gag about it taking a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun either – LaPierre dusted that one off for his address to fans at the annual CPAC confab this morning in the Washington, DC area.
Trump is scheduled to speak tomorrow at CPAC, during which it had been expected he’d try out his arm-the-teachers plan he has been pitching hard since Wednesday’s listening session with survivors and grieving parents of various school mass shootings. His plan had not gone over well with that crowd, whose attendees represented Marjory Stoneman, Sandy Hook Elementary School and Columbine High School, where two students slaughtered 12 classmates in Littleton, CO in 1999, ushering in our country’s school semi-automatic weapon mass-shooting era.
Since Columbine it has been standard protocol for authorities on site not to wait for backup or reinforcements, but engage the gunman immediately and disrupt the spray of gunfire. Instead, the deputy who was on duty at Marjory Stoneman on February 14, in uniform and armed, chose instead to stand outside the building for at least four of the six minutes it took the gunman in to dispatch 17 former classmates and school staff, a distressed Israel told reporters Thursday afternoon.
Scott Peterson, who had been the school’s resource officer since 2009, should have “[gone] in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer,” Israel said.
During another “listening” session on gun violence at the White House, Trump insisted “letting people know there are people…with a gun” at a school, “you won’t have these school shootings because people are cowards. They’re not going to walk into a school” where they know there is someone with a gun, Trump insisted. POTUS has proposed giving concealable weapons to school teachers, coaches or staff members with past training in firearms. It’s unclear how many armed teachers Trump is proposing, having mentioned 20% and 40%.
No word yet from Trump weighing in on the afternoon’s news.
Israel, however, told reporters he was “devastating, sick to my stomach, there are no words,” when asked how he felt about his officer’s response to the situation.
Israel said he would not release the video showing the deputy’s behavior, adding, “but what I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of Building 12, take up a position and he never went in.”
Israel said Peterson resigned/”retired” upon learning he was suspended without pay pending results of the investigation. It remains to be seen how parents of victims feel about his “retirement.”
The sheriff has said that when students return to the school, there will be officers who are armed – with semi-automatic weapons.
Israel also put two other officers on restrictive duty pending investigation of their handling of encounters with the gunman in the past and whether they should have intervened more aggressively, given what they learned about the teenager who went on to kill 17 students and staff at the school on Valentine’s Day.
Days earlier, parents of the shooting victims learned FBI had dropped the ball on more than one tip about the dangerous school-shooting intent of the gunman. FBI has apologized and is investigating.