Scot Peterson, the now-retired Broward County Sheriff’s deputy who failed to act during the shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is finally speaking out more than three months after the tragedy.
In two interviews, Peterson pushed back against the perception that he is the “coward of Broward County."
What is he saying?
In an interview with NBC host Savannah Guthrie on NBC's “Today” Tuesday, Peterson explained his minute-by-minute reaction to the active shooting and why he did not enter the school building where the killer was shooting.
"It's easy to sit there for people to go, 'Oh, he should have known that that person was up there.' It wasn't that easy," Peterson said.
Despite claims he failed to act or was too scared to engage the killer, Peterson explained that he reacted just as he was trained to do. But that doesn’t mean he is not haunted by not having more details at the time, so he could have acted decisively.
"It haunts me that I didn't know at that moment, you know, that — those are my kids in there. I never would have sat there and let my kids get slaughtered,” he said.
Some things Peterson said he was unaware of at the time that hindered his ability to react included not definitively knowing where the shooting was coming from and confusing radio traffic.
For example, Peterson said he was in the dark on many updated details, such as the fact that the killer was inside the school, because when students from inside the school dialed 911, they were connected to Coral Springs dispatchers, not Broward County dispatchers.
Does he admit any wrongdoing?
In a separate interview with the Washington Post, Peterson maintained he was performing his job just as he was trained to, but explained he has re-examined the day numerous times to determine whether lives could have been saved had he reacted differently.
"It’s haunting,” Peterson said. "I’ve cut that day up a thousand ways with a million different what-if scenarios, but the bottom line is I was there to protect, and I lost 17."
"There wasn’t even time to think. It just happened, and I started reacting,” he explained.
Does he have a message for Stoneman Douglas families?
Through tears, he told NBC: "I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I didn't ... I'm sorry that I didn't know where [the shooter] was."