BOYNTON BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) – Nearly four months after the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, the former sheriff’s deputy tasked with protecting those students is speaking out.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Scot Peterson, 55, said knowing what he knows now, he would have “been in that building in a heartbeat.”
“It’s haunting,” Peterson said now. “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 seventeen.”
He is also speaking out on national TV.
In an interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, which will air Tuesday and Wednesday on the “Today” show, Peterson was asked if he would acknowledge that “he missed it” by standing outside the building as a gunman fired an AR-15 assault-style rifle into classrooms. Peterson told Guthrie he “lives with that.”
Peterson retired from the Broward Sheriff’s Office after surveillance video showed him outside the building where the shooting occurred. He never confronted the gunman – 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.
During the interview, Peterson calls the students “my kids” and says that knowing what he now knows, he would have “been in that building in a heartbeat.” Parents of the victims were outraged by his comments.
Fred Guttenberg’s daughter Jamie was killed on the third floor, toward the end of the shooting. He believes if Peterson had entered the building his daughter would likely be alive today.
“They are not his kids. He didn’t go to a single funeral. He has not mourned a single child. He has not missed a single kids birthday. He is not going to miss father’s day. He didn’t miss Mother’s day. He isn’t missing holidays. How dare he refer to them as his kids. They are not his kids. They are his victims,” Guttenberg said.
In the Washington Post article, Peterson claims that he did his job that day by calling for backup, clearing the courtyard, and locking down the school.
“He’s trying to turn himself into a victim. He’s not a victim. He creates victims. My daughter was one of his victims. She was on the third floor. If he did his job she would be alive today,” Guttenberg said.
Parents of the victims saying Peterson’s timing was bad that day and still is today.
“I’m just so pissed at his decision. In this week, with graduation and all of this other end of year stuff for him to go on his pity party tour, I’m pissed,” Guttenberg said.