The sheriff’s deputy condemned by President Donald Trump for failing to confront the shooter who killed 17 people at a high school in Florida is receiving an almost $9,000 monthly pension, even though he resigned following the massacre.
Scot Peterson, who was a school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland at the time of the shooting in February, was the first person to respond to the incident. Security coverage later showed him arriving at the building where the shooting was occurring, and then not going inside for several minutes.
Mr Peterson is receiving $8,702.35 a month from his pension, with the first payment having been received in April, according to the Florida Department of Management Services. That makes up $104,428.20 a year — slightly more than the $101,879.04 he received in salary last year, the Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
“The thing he was supposed to do — protect these children — he didn’t do,” Michael Udine, the Broward County Commissioner, told the Miami Herald. “Now he’s going to be paid by taxpayers for the rest of his life? It seems disgraceful.”
Mr Peterson gained notoriety following the shooting when the security footage was released to the public. Froward Sheriff Scott Israel was highly critical of the 55-year-old Mr Peterson’s actions roughly a week after the shooting while announcing the deputy's immediate resignation and retirement.
“I am devastated,” Mr Israel said then. “Sick to my stomach. He never went in.” President Trump later called Mr Peterson a "coward" for his actions.
Mr Peterson later said that he did not enter the building because he was not sure where the gunfire was coming from. His lawyer, responding to the attacks from Mr Israel, also said that Mr Peterson acted consistently with his training, and was initially reacting to reports of firecrackers and then to an active shooter that he believed was outside.
Broward County Sheriff’s Office “trains its officers that in the event of outdoor gunfire one is to seek cover and assess the situation in order to communicate what one observes to other law enforcement,” the lawyer said. “Consistent with his training, Mr. Peterson ‘took up a tactical position between the... buildings corridor/corner.’”