In a startling development revealed at a Thursday afternoon news conference, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told the world the school resource deputy assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland waited outside the school building as the Valentine's Day shooting unfolded.
Scott Peterson never went in after taking a position on the west side of the building, Israel said.
Israel suspended him without pay, pending an internal investigation into his actions during the shooting that left 17 people dead, Israel said, but he resigned immediately thereafter. Peterson was eligible for retirement.
Israel made the decision to suspend the deputy, who was armed and in uniform at the time of the shooting, after interviewing him and reviewing footage and witness statements, he said.
"What I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of building 12, take up a position," Israel said of the video. "And he never went in."
Israel told reporters Peterson should have "[w]ent in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer." Instead, the deputy waited outside for about four minutes. During that time, Israel said, Peterson got on his radio and took a position where he could see the western entry of the building.
Asked how he felt watching the footage, Israel said: "Devastated. Sick to my stomach. There are no words. These families lost their children. We lost coaches. I've been to the funerals, I've been to the homes. ... I've been to the vigils. It's just -- there are no words."
Meanwhile, POLITICO Florida's Marc Caputo tweeted a statement from an angry Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran:
"In the rollout package tomorrow on guns, we will call for a special counsel and commission, chaired, we hope, by the parent of one of the children who died. And we are going to use our subpoena power to get every document known to mankind to ferret out the absolute abject breakdown at all levels that occurred with this tragedy."
Peterson had been the Douglas High School resource officer since 2009 and was named resource officer of the year for the Parkland district in 2014. Media have been attempting to reach him for comment since the press conference, so far unsuccessfully
Israel said two other BSO resource officers, Edward Eason and Guntis Treijs, have been placed on administrative (restrictive) duties pending further investigation, while his office investigates "whether or not they could have done more, or should have done more" during calls to the gunman's home before the shooting.
Since 2008, he said, the sheriff's office was involved in 23 calls involving either Nikolas Cruz or his brother. During some of the calls -- which were both in person and on the phone -- deputies met with Cruz's mother.
Officials also reported Thursday that surveillance footage from the school shooting was not shown live, as responding officers initially thought.
According to Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi, the footage had been rewound, and police were watching it on a 20-minute delay, leading them to believe Cruz, was still in the building when he was long gone.
"The delay never put us in a situation where any kids' lives were in danger, any teachers lives were in danger," Pustizzi said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
When officers arrived on the scene of the shooting, he said, they wanted to gain access to the security footage to learn what happened and where the perpetrator could be.
But last Wednesday the footage was rewound, Pustizzi told reporters. At some point, there was a miscommunication and officers believed they were watching real-time footage.
"The issue was more of a communications failure on who was reviewing the tape, letting our guys know that it was a 20-minute delay in what they were reviewing," Pustizzi said.
The Sun Sentinel first reported the delay in surveillance footage.
The rewound footage did not put any lives in danger, Pustizzi said, but it "did cause some confusion" when officers entered the school.
"At first the the guys are hearing, 'Oh he's on the second floor,'" Pustizzi said in the news conference. "Well it's not true. Because we have people on the second floor, and the people are saying, 'No, he's not on the second floor.'"
The Broward County School district said in a statement that its security system footage could be reviewed in both real-time or be rewound to see events that were previously recorded.
"During the immediate response to the event, the system was being viewed in real-time and the recorded footage was being viewed to retrace the actions of the shooter," the statement said, adding that the district no longer had access to the footage or the server it was stored on because investigating authorities have it.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Rick Scott admitted he's grown impatient with the FBI's failure to release further details on Cruz.
On Jan. 5, the FBI received a tip regarding “[Nikolas] Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.” Scott called on the FBI to immediately release all details and protocols concerning the Bureau’s failure to act on the tip. He even called for FBI Director Christopher Wray's resignation following the Bureau’s admission of this failure.
Said Scott Thursday, “It has been over a week since the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and the FBI is still yet to release any information on how they failed to investigate the critical tip ... A single 250-word statement from the Bureau admitting this inexcusable failure is not enough. Family members and loved ones of the victims deserve answers today and they should not be forced to wait in anguish as the FBI drags their feet.”