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Former resource officer at Parkland, Fla., high school acquitted of neglect charges

June 29, 2023
Scot Peterson had been accused of criminal negligence for failing to take action when a gunman attacked students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018

A former school resource officer who stayed outside during the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., has been acquitted of child neglect charges.

CNN reports that Scot Peterson, 60, took off his glasses and sobbed as the verdicts were announced. The jury found him not guilty of seven counts of felony child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury.

State prosecutors accused Peterson of ignoring his training and doing nothing as 17 people, including 14 students, were shot to death at the high school. His attorney argued during the trial that Peterson, at the time a Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputy, didn’t enter the building under attack because he couldn’t tell where the shots were coming from.

Peterson was accused of failing to confront the gunman according to his active shooter training, instead taking cover for more than 45 minutes outside the school’s three-story 1200 building before the killer was apprehended.

Peterson “left behind an unrestricted killer to spend the next 4 minutes and 15 seconds wandering the halls at his leisure,” Assistant State Attorney Kristen Gomes said in closing arguments. “Because when Scot Peterson ran, he left children trapped inside of the building with a predator unchecked.”

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