Deputy accused of cowardice after Florida school massacre gets $130,000 pension

Washington: A former sheriff's deputy who did not enter a high school in Parkland, Florida, during a massacre in February receives more than $US100,000 ($130,000) in an annual pension, the state has revealed, triggering outrage among parents of slain students and renewed accusations of cowardice.

Former deputy sheriff Scot Peterson did not enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the massacre in February.

The Florida Department of Management Services said in a statement on Wednesday that Scot Peterson began receiving his $US8702.35 monthly pension in April after Broward County Attorney-General Michael Satz found no charges against him that would force him to forfeit his pension.

"The department will continue to monitor the ongoing investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and will continue to follow the law," spokeswoman Nina Ashley told The Washington Post in the statement.

Peterson took a defensive position outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and did not enter the building as a gunman killed 17 people, videos released by police showed.

US President Donald Trump called a Peterson a "coward" and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he was "disgusted" and "just demoralised" by his actions. Peterson resigned on February 22, eight days after the killings, amid intense public scrutiny.

He had served for 32 years as a deputy on the force.

The recent revelations about Peterson's compensation sparked a backlash among two vocal parents of students who were killed.

"This infuriates me in ways people cannot comprehend. My daughter would still be alive if this person did his job," Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, said in response to the news, first reported by the Sun-Sentinel.

Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter Meadow and filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Peterson in April, also criticised the former deputy.

"The coward of broward, Scot Peterson is getting over $8k a month pension! He hid while my daughter and 16 others were slaughtered!" Pollack said on Twitter. "How in the hell is he getting this? That money should go to actually securing our schools!"

He told the Sun-Sentinel the funds should be used for school safety measures or scholarships for wounded students.

Peterson's attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo, did not respond to a request for comment.

He has staunchly defended Peterson, saying the former deputy believed the shots were coming from outside the building.

Because of that, DiRuzzo said, Peterson "took up a tactical position" to try to assess the situation.

The video footage captured Peterson hurrying across the campus as the massacre was unfolding and then – while, police said, the shooting continued – standing outside for several minutes without seeming to take cover.

Peterson should have gone in "and addressed the killer", Israel said. "Killed the killer."

The Washington Post

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