Resource officer never entered school after hearing gunfire, sheriff says

The latest on the Florida school shooting that left 17 dead

Scott Israel, Sheriff of Broward County, (L) and Florida Governor Rick Scott speak to the media as they visit Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school killed 17 people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Scott Israel, Sheriff of Broward County, (L) and Florida Governor Rick Scott speak to the media as they visit Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school killed 17 people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Here's the latest on the fatal school shooting in Florida.

9:15 p.m.

Lights in the home were on and cars were parked in the driveway, but no one answered the door bell during attempts to reach a former armed officer on duty at the Parkland, Florida, school where a shooter killed 17 people last week.

Authorities announced Thursday that the Stoneman Douglas High School resource officer, Scot Peterson, never went into the building to engage the gunman and has been placed under investigation. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says Peterson was suspended without pay, then chose to resign.

An Associated Press reporter says he tried twice ringing the doorbell at Peterson's home in a suburb of West Palm Beach and saw lights on inside and cars present. But no one answered.

A telephone message left earlier Thursday at a listing for Peterson by The Associated Press wasn't returned.

7:15 p.m.

A sheriff's office report says the suspect in a Florida school shooting that left 17 dead was involved in a fight with the adult son of a woman he was staying with shortly after his mother died.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office report says a deputy responded to the Lantana Cascade mobile home community in Lake Worth on Nov. 28.

The 22-year-old man there told the deputy that he tried to calm down 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who had been punching holes in walls and breaking objects. The man said Cruz hit him in the jaw, and the man hit Cruz back. He then tried to restrain Cruz, but the younger man got away.

The deputy found Cruz a short time later at a nearby park. Cruz told the deputy he had been angry because he misplaced a photo of his recently deceased mother, and he apologized for losing his temper.

   The other man told the deputy he didn't want Cruz arrested. He just wanted Cruz to calm down before coming home.

Florida's speaker of the House says his chamber is going to recommend creating a special commission to investigate the "abject breakdown at all levels" that led to the shooting deaths of 17 people at a Florida high school.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran made the comments Thursday evening shortly after it became known that a deputy at the school waited outside the building where the shooting was taking place but did not go in.

The Land O' Lakes Republican said that the commission would likely be led by a parent of one of the children killed and vowed the commission would have subpoena power.

Corcoran said the news did not dissuade him from moving ahead with what he was calling the "marshal" plan to let local law-enforcement officials train and deputize someone at the school who would be authorized to carry a gun.

5:55 p.m.

 Florida authorities are asking the federal government for at least $1 million in emergency grant funds to reimburse state and local agencies for the cost of responding to last week's school shooting.

Petrina Tuttle Herring, a bureau chief over grants for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, made the request Tuesday in a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Herring wrote that the total cost of the response to the shooting can't yet be determined, but local agencies say they incurred "significant costs." She called the $1 million an initial amount to help cover the personnel costs for investigative, intelligence and custody/supervision work, plus ongoing and capital expenses stemming from the incident.

 The Feb. 14 shooting claimed the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

5:40 p.m.

A Florida sheriff says the deputy who was on duty at a high school where 17 people were massacred waited outside the building for about four minutes without ever going in.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel announced during a Thursday news conference that Deputy Scot Peterson resigned after being suspended without pay.

Israel said he made the decision after reviewing video surveillance and interviewing witnesses, including the deputy himself. The sheriff says Peterson responded to the building where the shooting took place, took up a position outside a door and never went in.

When asked what Peterson should have done, Israel said the deputy should have "went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer."

Authorities say 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz fatally shot 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14.

5:25 p.m.

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts says people under 21 don't need to own semi-automatic rifles like the one used in last week's Florida mass shooting.

The Republican predicts Congress will pass new gun legislation.

Roberts says gun control is "not entirely the answer" to shootings like the one at a Parkland, Florida, high school that killed 17 people last week. But he predicts the federal government will require better background checks.

The senator told reporters Thursday during a visit to the Kansas Statehouse, "Certainly, nobody under 21 should have an AR-15." The Florida gunman was 19 years old.

Roberts also says schools and law enforcement agencies need to communicate better so officers arrive "within two minutes." He suggests that in some cases, National Guard troops could be called in.

3:45 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio says a visit to a Florida high school where 17 people were fatally shot has prompted him to change his stance on large capacity magazines.

Rubio visited Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school and a few days later met with its teachers. He said he was told that several people were able to escape because 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz stopped and reloaded the rifle he used during the Feb. 14 attack.

The Florida Republican, who was challenged by survivors and family members during a contentious meeting broadcast on CNN on Wednesday, said this is "evidence in this case that it saved the lives of some people."

Rubio has been sharply criticized since the shooting because he has received support from groups like the National Rifle Association during his political career.

3 p.m.

Survivors of the Florida school shooting have come under a different kind of assault, this time from online trolls who have threatened them as they seek tighter gun laws.

One student was teased about being a "brown, bald lesbian." Another was the target of conspiracy theorists who claimed he was really an actor. When a group of teens posed for a photo, they were accused of lapping up attention from the cameras.

In the face of such attacks, the students have been undeterred, confronting the trolls head-on in national television interviews and on social media.

David Hogg recorded a harrowing video of the shooting. He says he's amused by the trolls. And he regards their attacks as evidence that the teens' efforts are working and "changing the world."

2 p.m.

A top FBI official is acknowledging the agency has lost public trust after it botched a potentially life-saving tip before the Florida school shooting.

David Bowdich is the FBI's acting deputy director. He says the bureau is "doing everything we can" to regain that trust. And he says it made a mistake by failing to investigate a tip that the suspect may be plotting mass violence.

Bowdich says the FBI is still reviewing what went wrong, noting that processes were in place that were not followed.

He says losing the public's faith and confidence is the greatest threat to the agency.

The failure comes as the FBI is already under intense political pressure, primarily related to its investigation of Trump ties to Russia.

1:15 p.m.

Hundreds have gathered to remember a 37-year-old assistant football coach and security guard gunned down while helping students to safety during a mass shooting at a Florida high school on Valentine's Day.

Aaron Feis was remembered Thursday as a loyal friend and a hero during an emotional funeral service that began with football players carrying the casket into the Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, not far from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Joe LaGuardia, who attended high school with Feis at Stoneman Douglas, described him as "one of the greatest people I have ever known." He recalled hearing about the Feb. 14 shooting while preparing to go to an Ash Wednesday service.

He said, "I knew that Aaron would be running to save lives, I just knew it."

Former student Brandon Corona called Feis a "counselor to those who had no father figure."

12:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says drills that teach students how to respond if an active shooter ever enters the premises "are a very negative thing."

Trump says he wouldn't want to tell his son that he has to go through an active-shooter drill. The youngest of Trump's five children, 11-year-old Barron, attends a private school in Potomac, Maryland.

The president says he'd prefer what he called a "hardened school" over active-shooter drills. Trump has said making schools safer will be a top priority for the administration. He has floated the idea of arming teachers as a possible deterrent.

Trump spoke as he opened a school-safety discussion with state and local officials at the White House in response to the fatal shooting of 17 people at a Florida high school last week.

12:02 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he's speaking with members of Congress about making schools safer following last week's deadly shooting at a Florida high school.

Trump is discussing the issue with state and local officials from around the country who are at the White House. Trump says he also called many members of Congress on Wednesday night and that "they're into background checks." Trump did not identify the lawmakers he spoke with.

He says they will raise age limits in an apparent reference to the minimum-age for buying an assault-style weapon.

Trump says the group will also discuss opening mental institutions.

Thursday's session follows one on Wednesday in which the president heard emotional pleas from students and parents affected by the fatal shooting of 17 people at a Parkland, Florida, high school.


The daughter of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King says she stands in solidarity with the survivors of the Florida school shooting as they seek solutions to school violence.

Speaking Thursday at The King Center in Atlanta, the Rev. Bernice King said the Feb. 14 massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School "gives us an opportunity to lay aside for a moment our differences and really look at how we can come together as humanity and move forward with these injustices and these evils that continue to beset us."

King commended the surviving students and said she plans to join and support them during the March for Our Lives in Washington next month and in other planned efforts.

King said that as the 50th anniversary of her father's assassination approaches, she hopes we can "look toward solutions as these young people are forcing us to have the conversations, bipartisan conversations."

11:06 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the Trump administration will make school safety "our top national priority" after last week's attack on a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Pence recounted President Donald Trump's calls for strengthening the federal background check system for purchasing firearms and for regulating bump-stocks like those used in last year's Las Vegas massacre.

Calling school shootings "evil in our time," Pence called on those in positions of authority "to find a way to come together with American solutions."

It was a markedly different tone than that deployed on stage minutes earlier by NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, who delivered an unbowed defense of gun ownership and lashed out at Democrats -- saying they are using the tragedy for "political gain."

11 a.m.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida is giving fellow Sen. Marco Rubio credit for being the only Republican to attend a televised town hall meeting after the school shooting in their state.

He also criticized Republican Gov. Rick Scott for not showing up at the Wednesday meeting.

Nelson told a group of Democratic state senators on Thursday that Rubio "had the guts to be there when Governor Scott did not."

Scott is likely to challenge Nelson as he seeks a fourth term in the Senate this November. Nelson questioned Scott's commitment to make meaningful change after the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead.

10:15 a.m.

Leaders of the National Rifle Association are accusing supporters of gun control of exploiting the mass school shooting in Florida to promote an anti-gun agenda.

NRA leader Wayne LaPierre spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He says Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy are eager to blame the NRA and are calling "for even more government control."

He says opponents of gun rights want to "sweep under the carpet" the failure of school safety, families "and even the unbelievable failure of the FBI" to prevent the shootings.

LaPierre and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch are addressing conservatives at CPAC.

Loesch says many in the media "love mass shootings," adding, "crying white mothers are ratings gold."

9:47 a.m.

President Donald Trump is offering a full-throated backing of the National Rifle Association.

Trump says on Twitter Thursday: "What many people don't understand, or don't want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the (at)NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"

The president, a strong supporter of gun rights, is publicly weighing some gun control measures in the wake of the school shooting in Florida last week that left 17 dead.

He has expressed interest in strengthening background checks, banning "bump stock" style devices and raising the minimum age to 21 for possessing more weapons than at present.

9:08 a.m.

President Donald Trump is meeting with state and local officials from around the country to discuss school safety.

The White House says attendees at a session Thursday include Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, both Republicans. The Democratic Mayor of Parkland, Florida, Christine Hunschofsky, will also participate. She is the mayor of the town where 17 people were killed in a school shooting last week.

Trump will also hear from local police, health and education officials. He is seeking to show action in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

On Wednesday, Trump heard from students and parents impacted by the Parkland shooting, as well as past mass shootings.

8:23 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he wants to see action on a series of gun control measures, saying "Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue - I hope!"

Trump was speaking on Twitter Thursday. He says: "I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks!"

He did not immediately offer more details.

Trump appeared to be endorsing a plan to raise the minimum age to buy assault-type weapons.

He has previously expressed interest in efforts to strengthen the federal background check system. It was not clear if he would back closing loopholes that permit loose private sales on the internet and at gun shows.

7:49 a.m.

President Donald Trump is continuing to talk about the possibility of arming teachers, saying he means concealed weapons for "gun adept teachers with military or special training experience - only the best."

Trump spoke on Twitter Thursday morning. He tweeted: "I never said `give teachers guns' like was stated on Fake News (at)CNN & (at)NBC." Trump says that giving concealed weapons to highly trained teachers would allow them to, in his words, "immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions."

Trump added: "Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this." He says: "ATTACKS WOULD END!"

At a White House listening session on gun violence Wednesday, Trump raised the idea of arming some teachers with concealed weapons.

7:35 a.m.

For almost a half-hour after a school shooter dropped his assault-style rifle and escaped Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, police officers thought they were seeing his actions live on the school's security system.

They soon realized the images were tape delayed, which Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi told the Sun-Sentinel made a chaotic situation more confusing.

The 19-year-old suspect, Nikolas Cruz, was captured an hour later in a neighborhood about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the school where 17 people died Feb. 14.

The newspaper reports police transmissions show that police initially couldn't get to security cameras. Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference he didn't know about the security system delays but would look into it.

12:30 a.m.

The students who swarmed Florida's state capitol in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre want the Legislature to enact stricter limits on guns. What that might entail remains debatable -- if any changes are forthcoming at all.

The 100 Stoneman Douglas survivors who traveled 400 miles to Tallahassee were welcomed into the gun-friendly halls of power Wednesday, but the students' goal of a ban on assault-style rifles, such as the weapon used in the shooting had been taken off the table a day earlier.

More limited measures are still possible.

Republican legislative leaders may raise the age limit for rifle purchases. They may also increase funding for mental health programs and police officers assigned to schools and enact a waiting period for rifle purchases.

12:11 a.m.

President Donald Trump is pledging to be "very strong on background checks." And he suggests he'd support allowing some teachers and other school employees to carry concealed weapons to be ready for intruders.

Trump listened intently Wednesday to the raw emotion as students and parents appealed to the president to set politics aside and protect America's school children from the scourge of gun violence.

The president had invited the teen survivors of school violence and parents of murdered children in a show of his resolve against gun violence in the wake of last week's shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and in past years at schools in Connecticut and Colorado. The latest episode has prompted a renewed and growing call for stronger gun control.

Trump later tweeted that he would "always remember" the meeting. "So much love in the midst of so much pain. We must not let them down. We must keep our children safe!!"