Dispatch audio reveals: No, Scot Peterson is not getting a bad rap

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Friday March 09th, 2018

It looks like he was every bit the coward he first appeared to be.

There are two sides to every story, but that doesn't mean the first one you hear is necessarily incorrect. I was intrigued when erstwhile Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Scot Peterson came out with his side of the story, via his lawyer, as Sheriff Scott Israel went all-in scapegoating Peterson for what happened at Stoneman Douglas. Peterson weaved a tale that appeared far more complicated than the initial story that he simply stood outside and did nothing while the carnage was progressing inside, and it hinged crucially on his claim that, at first, he thought the shooting was going on outside.

Dispatch audio has now been released in which we hear Peterson's voice describing the events in real time, and it appears beyond a shadow of a doubt that the story he told through his lawyer was a complete lie. He knew exactly what was going on, and where, and he not only stayed back but urged other officers to do the same.

Here is the Broward Sheriff's Office timeline of what happened, reconstructed from the audio, as reported by the Miami Herald. It's just awful.

Cruz was dropped off at the school by an Uber at 2:19 p.m. Two minutes later, he entered Building 12. He began firing within 15 seconds. Peterson, at the time, was near the administration building.

At 2:22 p.m. the fire alarm was triggered, blaring throughout the entire campus. The first 911 call also went out, via Coral Springs emergency-dispatch center.

“Be advised we have possible, could be firecrackers. I think we have shots fired, possible shots fired —1200 building,” Peterson radioed at 2:23 p.m.

At that moment, according to the video, Peterson arrived at the southeast corner of Building 12, where he appeared to remain “for the duration of the incident.” “We’re talking about the 1200 building, it’s going to be the building off Holmberg Road,” Peterson said seconds later. “Get the school locked down, gentlemen.”

As the shots intensified, other deputies began racing to the scene, radioing in. One believed he heard shots by the football field, something Peterson mentioned in a statement released last month by his attorney, arguing that the school resource deputy thought shots were coming from outside the 1200 building.

“BSO 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 with other law enforcement,” Peterson said.

But Peterson, according to the timeline, remain focused on Building 12.

“All right... We also heard it’s by, inside the 1200,” Peterson said at 2:25 p.m.

Joseph DiRuzzo, Peterson’s attorney, did not respond to an email and a call to his office.

Calls about the shooting began “blowing up” the 911 call centers. Students were spilling out of the campus. Peterson radioed to make sure “no one comes inside the school.”

At 2:27 p.m., six minutes after Cruz went into Building 12, the shooting stopped. Cruz ditched his AR-15 in the third-floor stairwell and left.

Five seconds later, Peterson radioed for officers to “stay at least 500 feet away at this point.” A dispatcher repeated, “Stay away from 12 and 1300 building.”

Coral Springs officer Tim Burton had just arrived at Douglas High. At 2:28 p.m., he radioed out the first description of Cruz: “White male with ROTC Uniform Burgundy Shirt” — exactly what the shooter was wearing when he was arrested later. How Burton obtained the information was unclear from the timeline.

At 2:29 p.m., as officers began encountering wounded students, Burton met with Peterson outside Building 12.

The chaos continued. Deputies tried getting into Building 13 next door, but it was locked. A fleeing student appeared to be stuck in a fence; a deputy asked for bolt cutters. One deputy called for a command post to be set up.

“We need to get units in here so we can trying to find this guy,” a deputy radioed.

It was at 2:32 — 11 minutes after the shooting began — that four Coral Springs officers and two BSO deputies made the first police entrance into the building, helping to “extract a victim.”

By 2:35 p.m., officers were seen transporting a victim on a golf cart. One minute after that, 10 officers burst into Building 12 through an east-side entrance.

To summarize, four minutes after the first shots were fired, Peterson indicated they may have been fired within Building 12. Two minutes after that, he says they were for sure fired within Building 12.

Eight minutes after the first shots were fired, Peterson tells other officers to stay at least 500 feet away, and to stay away from both ther 1200 and 1300 buildings.

Not until the shooting had been going on for 11 minutes did any officers enter the building, and even then Peterson stayed at the southeast corner of Building 12, where he had been the entire time.

Unless there's something we're really not understanding here, there is simply no way to excuse Peterson's actions. Police protocols since Columbine have been clear: When there is an active shooter, you don't pull back. You engage immediately and try to stop the shooting. It was Peterson's job not only to do that, but to implore other responding officers to do the same.

Instead, he told them to pull back and wait, and added to the confusion about where the shooting was going on.

How can you possibly defend Peterson at this point against the charge of cowardice? This does not confuse some of the other malfeasance on the part of Sheriff Israel, who appears to be a first-class weasel all his own. But there is no excusing Scot Peterson's actions, especially after he lied about them in that statement released by his lawyer.

He didn't get a bum rap at all. He was every bit the derelict coward he first appeared to be. I wonder how many of these young murder victims might be alive if Scot Peterson had done his job.

Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!

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