WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said on Friday that the sheriff’s deputy who decided not to intervene as a gunman was killing 17 people inside a Florida high school was a “coward.”
Deputy Scot Peterson “didn’t react properly under pressure,” Trump told reporters moments before boarding a helicopter at the White House to fly to National Harbor, Maryland, to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office disclosed Thursday that Peterson, the armed school resource deputy assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, remained outside the building as 19-year-old shooter Nikolas Cruz went on his rampage.
“What he did, he’s trained his whole life ... When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn’t have the courage or something happened,” the president said of the deputy.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Thursday that watching security-camera footage of Peterson standing outside the school during the shooting made him “sick to his stomach.”
Peterson resigned hours after being suspended without pay.
Trump, who suggested earlier this week that arming teachers would be an appropriate response to school shootings, said Friday that “schools have to have some sort of protection ... If there are guns inside held by the right people, by highly trained professionals, you’re going to see this end. It won’t be happening anymore.”