Parkland deputy's familly calls him coward for hiding from gunman

The Florida sheriff's deputy who 'did nothing' as a gunman slaughtered kids inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has now been branded a coward by his own family. 

Deputy Scot Peterson, 54, resigned his position as a school resource officer rather than face an internal inquiry but defended his decision to 'seek cover' rather than try to take down AR-15 wielding Nikolas Cruz. 

But now his own family is questioning his response to the sickening shooting that claimed 17 lives - with his stepdaughter Sarah De Luca, 23, telling DailyMail.com: 'Both of their guns shoot bullets, he didn't have a water gun.

'He's a giant, he's 6ft 4in. I feel like the shooter would have been scared of Scot in his uniform running towards him. I do feel Scot is a coward.' 

Peterson's four biological children have not spoken publicly about the controversy but a family friend told DailyMail.com they were stunned by his apparent inaction.

The family of sheriff's deputy Scot Peterson (pictured) have called him a coward in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14. Photos of him obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com show him as a caring dad playing with kids and pulling silly faces

The family of sheriff's deputy Scot Peterson (pictured) have called him a coward in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14. Photos of him obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com show him as a caring dad playing with kids and pulling silly faces

The 54-year-old, who worked as the SRO at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since 2009, 'did nothing' as gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire, killing 17. Instead he 'hid' and sought cover outside of the building as students were slaughtered

The 54-year-old, who worked as the SRO at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since 2009, 'did nothing' as gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire, killing 17. Instead he 'hid' and sought cover outside of the building as students were slaughtered

Peterson's own family is questioning his response to the sickening shooting that claimed 17 lives - with his stepdaughter Sarah De Luca, 23, telling DailyMail.com: 'Both of their guns shoot bullets, he didn't have a water gun'

Peterson's own family is questioning his response to the sickening shooting that claimed 17 lives - with his stepdaughter Sarah De Luca, 23, telling DailyMail.com: 'Both of their guns shoot bullets, he didn't have a water gun'

De Luca said Peterson used to keep a rifle in the back of his car and a bulletproof vest, and he would brag he was a 'really good shooter whenever he had to qualify'

De Luca said Peterson used to keep a rifle in the back of his car and a bulletproof vest, and he would brag he was a 'really good shooter whenever he had to qualify'

 His stepdaughter added: 'If he was too soft to do something he shouldn't have signed up to be a cop. I'd be pretty upset if I was a parent'

 His stepdaughter added: 'If he was too soft to do something he shouldn't have signed up to be a cop. I'd be pretty upset if I was a parent'

The 33-year law enforcement veteran has two boys, Matthew, 21, and Patrick, 19, who are both US servicemen, as well as daughters Alexandra, 24, and Kaitlyn, 22. 

'The boys have only recently begun their military careers and they are worried about the stigma of having their father called a coward,' said the source. 

'The daughters are just angry with him for not doing anything. I'm not sure that they would defend him.' 

Peterson went into hiding last week hours after he was vilified for apparently shirking a confrontation with Cruz as the gunman stalked the hallways of his former school on February 14, gunning down 14 students and three staff members.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said last Friday that security footage revealed Peterson stood near an entrance to the Parkland, Florida high school for four minutes after Cruz starting firing - but 'never went in.'

Israel told reporters that Peterson should have 'went in, address the killer, kill the killer,' adding that Peterson was suspended without pay but chose to resign rather than face an internal investigation. 

Branded a coward by President , Peterson went into hiding but responded Monday through an attorney saying that he believed the shooter was outside the school and was following protocol demanding that he take cover. 

'Broward Sheriff's Office trains its officers that in the event of outdoor gunfire one is to seek cover and assess the situation in order to communicate what one observes with other law enforcement,' his lawyer, Joseph DiRuzzo, said in a statement.

'Radio transmissions indicated that there [was] a gunshot victim in the area of the football field, which served to confirm Mr. Peterson's belief that the shooter, or shooters, were outside.' 

Israel's department have so far refused to release school security video to let the public judge Peterson's actions for themselves.

A further report suggested that officers from the Coral Springs Police Department arrived at the school to find three more Broward County deputies waiting outside the building. 

They were hiding behind cars with their pistols drawn instead of engaging Cruz, a department insider told CNN. Israel says the claims are subject to an internal investigation. 

Peterson had four kids with first wife Rosemary Peterson, 55, before divorcing and marrying Sarah and Jesse De Luca's mum, Ivelesse Ochoa, a 46-year-old administrative support specialist at the Broward Sheriff's Office

Peterson had four kids with first wife Rosemary Peterson, 55, before divorcing and marrying Sarah and Jesse De Luca's mum, Ivelesse Ochoa, a 46-year-old administrative support specialist at the Broward Sheriff's Office

De Luca said Peterson would break up fights, bust kids for selling Adderall and see off trespassers. She doesn't know of any occasion when he was forced to fire his service weapon

De Luca said Peterson would break up fights, bust kids for selling Adderall and see off trespassers. She doesn't know of any occasion when he was forced to fire his service weapon

Peterson went into hiding last week hours after he was vilified for apparently shirking a confrontation with Cruz as he stalked the hallways of his former school on February 14, gunning down 14 students and three staff members

Scot Peterson

Peterson went into hiding last week hours after he was vilified for apparently shirking a confrontation with Cruz as he stalked the hallways of his former school on February 14, gunning down 14 students and three staff members

The 54-year-old was nominated for Parkland deputy of the year in 2017

The 54-year-old was nominated for Parkland deputy of the year in 2017

The Broward County Sheriff's office received 18 warning calls about Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz (seen a day after the shooting)

The Broward County Sheriff's office received 18 warning calls about Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz (seen a day after the shooting)

Photos of Peterson obtained exclusively DailyMail.com paint him in a very different light, as a caring father larking around with his kids and pulling silly faces on family outings.

In one image he playfully points a plastic gun at his stepson Jesse, 25. In another photo he poses beside a poster for the 2012 comedy 21 Jump Street - about too hapless cops who go undercover at a high school to bust a drug gang, with one taking a bullet to save his partner. 

Peterson had four kids with first wife Rosemary Peterson, 55, before divorcing and marrying Sarah and Jesse De Luca's mum, Ivelesse Ochoa, a 46-year-old administrative support specialist at the Broward Sheriff's Office. 

He split from Ochoa in 2013 and currently lives with a girlfriend, Lydia Rodriguez, in a $230,000 family home in Boynton Beach, Florida, which has been patrolled by police all week despite neither Peterson nor his partner having been seen there for nearly a week. 

Peterson studied criminal justice at Florida International University and worked several security jobs before joining the Broward's Sheriff's Office in 1985. He worked as a traffic cop before being transferred to the school resource officer program in 1991. 

He had been SRO at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since 2009. 

'Scot was there for me from kindergarten through to college, we lived in a mobile home,' recalled De Luca. 

'I saw a lot of what he did. He was practically a guidance counselor, not like a real cop. He didn't do any actual crime fighting.' 

De Luca said Peterson would break up fights, bust kids for selling Adderall and see off trespassers. 

She doesn't know of any occasion when he was forced to fire his service weapon. 

Paperwork seen by DailyMail.com reveals that, at one stage Peterson, who earned up to $106,000 a year, was accused of being $48,000 behind on his alimony and owed more than $30,000 in interest

Paperwork seen by DailyMail.com reveals that, at one stage Peterson, who earned up to $106,000 a year, was accused of being $48,000 behind on his alimony and owed more than $30,000 in interest

The disgraced officer worked security jobs before joining the Broward's Sheriff's Office in 1985. He worked as a traffic cop before the school resource officer program in 1991

The disgraced officer worked security jobs before joining the Broward's Sheriff's Office in 1985. He worked as a traffic cop before the school resource officer program in 1991

Peterson's ex-wives declined to speak but legal papers reveal his relationships with both women ended bitterly. His first marriage lasted 14 years and ended in 2001, but the pair were still wrangling over child support and unpaid alimony as recently as last year

Peterson's ex-wives declined to speak but legal papers reveal his relationships with both women ended bitterly. His

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