TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Former Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson is accused of failing to help the students inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the shooter’s deadly rampage in 2018. On Thursday, a jury found him not guilty of seven counts of child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury.
Prosecutors argued Peterson should have been held accountable for staying back more than 45 minutes as students and staff were gunned down by Nikolas Cruz, who is now serving life in prison without parole.
Parkland parent Max Schachter told News Channel 8 that the acquittal of Peterson is “another devastating Broward County Jury verdict.”
“This verdict doesn’t bring Alex back to me,” he said.
But it won’t stop Schachter’s mission of making schools safer since the gunman murdered his son, 13 classmates, and three staff members at the South Florida high school on Valentine’s Day in 2018.
“It hurts that the murderer got the gift of life that he didn’t deserve,” Schachter said, “that Scot Peterson got off and is not being held accountable for his inaction and failure.”
Alex Schachter’s father was not in the courtroom for the verdict because he is in Indiana for the School Resource Officer National Convention.
Like his presentation earlier this month at the Hernando County School safety summit, he said he spoke with Indianapolis Police about the failures leading up to the Parkland shooting and during the law enforcement response.
“This definitely shined a bright spotlight on how important it is that school resource officers are carefully selected and specially trained,” Schachter said.
For the former Parkland school resource officer, this verdict is vindication.
“Don’t anybody ever forget this was a massacre on February 14th,” Peterson said. “The only person to blame was that monster.”
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd serves on the state’s MSD High School Safety Commission.
“I’ve got intimate knowledge of that entire event,” he said.
The sheriff said Peterson is a coward who should have been convicted for his inaction during the school shooting.
“And Scot Peterson had the nerve to say after the trial today, ‘I’ve got my life back after four and a half years,’ but children don’t have their life back, and that’s a shame,” Sheriff Judd said.
Had the jury found Peterson guilty, his sentence could have been nearly 100 years in prison and he could have lost his $104,000 annual pension.