Transcript for Florida school officer defends himself against criticism
Meantime, for the first time, the deputy branded a coward by some is now responding tonight. He's accused of being outside the school building but failing to go inside to confront the shooter as it was all under way. ABC's Vick to Oquendo with the new statement tonight. Reporter: Tonight, as teachers and students begin returning to the scene of that horrific school shooting, that school resource officer, accused of waiting outside of the building while the rampage unfolded, defending himself, saying in a letter through his lawyer, "The allegations that Mr. Peterson was a coward and failed to meet the standards of police officers are patently untrue." Former deputy Scot Peterson claims he initially received a call of firecrackers, and that once he arrived at the building, he heard gunshots, but believed that those gunshots were originating from outside of any of the buildings. Peterson, calling the sheriff's strong statements about him -- Devastated. Sick to my stomach. Reporter: Quote, uncalled for attacks upon his character. This, as sheriff Scott Israel is on the defensive himself. I have given amazing leadership to this agency. Amazing leadership? Reporter: Israel now investigating reports from nearby Coral Springs police officers who also responded to the school that several other Broward county deputies waited instead of rushing into the school during the shooting, but Israel says the tapes he has reviewed don't back up this claim. And now, calls from 74 Florida Republicans for the sheriff, a Democrat who has spoken out against arming teachers, to be suspended for his department's kwl ignoring repeated warning signs" about suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz. The sheriff's office responded to 18 calls related to Cruz, two of those calls now under review, including one call in November saying Cruz could be a school shooter in the making. The caller, as you know, came from Massachusetts. She told the deputy that the subject, the eventual killer, was somewhere in palm beach county. Reporter: The sheriff then asked, did the person who received that call follow up? Indication at this point is that he did not. Victor Oquendo live with us tonight from outside the school. And Rick Scott, a Republican, who has already backed raising the minimum wage to buy firearms to 21 now, says he disagrees with the president's plan to arm some teachers? Reporter: David, the governor rarely disagrees with the president, but here he is, on the record, saying he'd rather see teachers teach and focus on making sure law enforcement, with the proper training, is in place to protect the students. David? Vick to Oquendo tonight.
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