President Trump on Friday castigated the uniformed sheriff’s deputy on duty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during last week’s shooting spree in which 17 people died. The deputy resigned from the Broward County Sheriff’s office on Feb. 22 after surveillance footage showed he waited outside the building rather than attempt to confront the killer.
Some commentators have said this casts doubt on the usefulness of arming teachers to stop attackers, but Trump drew the opposite conclusion. During a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Md., the president said he believed that an armed teacher or administrator would have stopped the shooter in Parkland.
“A teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened,” Trump said. “These teachers love their students. And these teachers are talented with weaponry and with guns. And I’d rather have somebody that loves their students and wants to protect their students than somebody standing outside that doesn’t know anybody and doesn’t know the students and frankly, for whatever reason, decided not to go in even though he heard lots of shots being fired.”
Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn earlier Friday, Trump criticized Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson for not engaging the shooter.
“When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn’t have the courage, or something happened,” Trump told reporters. “But he certainly did a poor job. There’s no question about that.”
“He was there for five minutes — for five minutes,” Trump continued. “That was during the entire shooting. He heard it right from the beginning. So he certainly did a poor job. But that’s a case where somebody was outside, they’re trained, they didn’t act properly or [were] under pressure, or they were a coward. It was a real shock to the police department.”
At a press conference on Thursday, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he was “devastated” when he discovered that the deputy, Scot Peterson, did nothing.
“What I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of Building 12, take up a position, and he never went in,” Israel told reporters.
According to Israel, Peterson “clearly” knew the shooter was inside the building, but stayed outside for four minutes while the killing continued.
“Devastated; sick to my stomach. There are no words,” Israel said. “These families lost their children; we lost coaches. I’ve been to the funerals. I’ve been to the homes where they’re sitting shiva. I’ve been to the vigils. There are no words.”
During meetings on school safety at the White House earlier this week, Trump suggested arming “adept” teachers with guns — even offering to pay “a little bit of a bonus” to those who carry them.
“Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this,” Trump tweeted on Thursday morning. “Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A ‘gun free’ school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!”
During a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turbull on Friday afternoon, Trump again suggested that armed security guards do not care about students.
“We need people who can take of our children,” he said. “A security guard doesn’t know the children, doesn’t love the children. This man standing outside of the school the other day doesn’t love the children.”
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