FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The father of a student killed in a mass shooting at a Florida high school is suing the armed officer who stood outside the building as people were massacred within.
Meadow Pollack was among the 17 killed on Valentine’s Day in a freshman building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Her father, Andrew Pollack, said Scot Peterson, the former sheriff’s deputy and the school’s resource officer, is his main target in the wrongful death lawsuit filed Monday in Broward County.
“He let my daughter get shot nine times at point-blank range,” Pollack told the Miami Herald. “He had the opportunity to go in and instead, let all those people get murdered.”
The lawsuit also names 19-year-old shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz; the estate of Cruz’s mother, who died in November; and James and Kimberly Snead, the couple who took Cruz in after his mother died. It also names three behavioral and mental health facilities that evaluated Cruz at some point before the shooting.
Peterson, 54, was suspended with pay and then immediately resigned and retired on Feb. 23, when video surveillance footage from the school showed he never entered the building when the gunfire began. Broward Sheriff Scott Israel condemned Peterson’s actions, saying he should have gone inside.
“Peterson is my main target,” Pollack said. “He could have stopped it. Could have saved my kid. Nobody should be able to not do their job, receive a pension and ride off into the sunset.”
The lawsuit details Cruz’s troubled life, saying the teen “suffered from severe mental illness and was prone to violence.”
When Cruz arrived at the high school on Feb. 14, the lawsuit claims a “pusillanimous” Peterson “cowered in a safe location between two concrete walls” as the gunman “rained bullets upon the teachers and students.”
Peterson, a 33-year veteran law enforcement officer, pushed back against critics in a statement issued by attorney Joseph DiRuzzo shortly after the shooting. “Allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and that his performance, under the circumstances, failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue,” the statement said.
Pollack said he wants to let people know that Peterson is a “coward.”
“My daughter died crawling by a doorway — shielding a classmate who also ended up dying — waiting for someone to come help her. Help never came.”