July 28, 2020 | News | No Comments
The armed officer on duty at a Florida high school where 17 people were shot dead has defended his actions after Donald Trump branded him a coward.
Scot Peterson ran to the sound of gunshots, but believing the shooting to be taking place outdoors he followed his training to take up a "tactical position" from where he directed first responders, according to his lawyer.
Mr Peterson has been heavily criticised for failing to do more to prevent the massacre. On Monday, Mr Trump said the deputy and other officers present "weren’t exactly medal of honour winners".
Mr Trump claimed he would have raced into the school during the attack even if he were unarmed.
Joseph DiRuzzo, Mr Peterson’s attorney, said it was "patently untrue" that the deputy failed to meet sheriff’s department standards or acted with cowardice.
The sheriff’s office declined comment, explaining that Peterson’s conduct is being investigated by its internal affairs division.
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Mr Peterson’s statement said he and a security specialist ran to the scene at first word of the shooting, a report that mistakenly said firecrackers were being set off near one building. He then heard gunshots "but believed that those gunshots were originating from outside of the buildings".
Following his training to seek cover and assess the situation in the event of outdoor gunfire, he alerted dispatchers and initiating a "code red" lockdown of the campus, the statement said.
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"Radio transmissions indicated that there was a gunshot victim in the area of the football field," adding to his belief that the shooting was outside.
The state governor’s office has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the police response, and the agency confirmed it would begin the probe immediately.