There’s perhaps one, pointed emotion that encapsulates the feelings of so many people across the nation today, as details continue to emerge from the deadly school shooting that unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida: anger.
The more we learn, the more it appears that there were systematic failures that could have potentially prevented the 19-year-old gunman from going on his horrific rampage, as signs and warnings were allegedly either missed or ignored.
Of course it’s always easier to look back and say “would of, should of, could of,” but here’s some of what we do know about this tragedy:
– An armed deputy stood outside the school for at least four minutes while gunshots rang out inside and people were killed inside. That deputy, Scot Peterson, 54, resigned after being investigated.
– The Broward County Sheriffs office had received at least 23 calls about either the shooter or his brother in the years leading up to the massacre; a 2016 call involved claims that the shooter planned to “shoot up” a school. A 2017 call warned that he was suicidal, collecting weapons and could be a “school shooter in the making.”
– The FBI also failed to act on information/tips it received on the gunman before the shooting
Right now, scores of questions surround what could have been done to stop the shooting before it unfolded. But much of the anger is currently being directed at Peterson, who Sheriff Scott Israel said should have entered the school and “killed the killer.”
Many have wondered why Peterson didn’t go into the building and confront the shooter, expressing confusion over why the scenario unfolded as it did. As a result, scores of people have deemed Peterson a “coward,” have slammed him on social media and made a slew of judgements.
The anger over these reports is understandable, as is the frustration and the lamentations about what could have happened had Peterson run in and confronted the gunman. But there’s still a lot of information missing surrounding what, exactly, happened outside of the building — and we have yet to hear from Peterson himself.
Voicing anger and critique is easy, but, regardless of how those facts shape up, an honest question does, indeed, confront us all: What would you do if faced with the same scenario? I would hope to exercise the bravery I believe I would exhibit, but I have never been in such a circumstance.
1. When you wear the uniform, you pledge to respond to a crisis with courage.
2. Some people will fail that test.
3. That failure is human but still must be punished.
4. But make that judgment with humility. Because none of us knows our true character until it’s tested.
— David French (@DavidAFrench) February 23, 2018
It’s clear that brave students stood up and even risked their lives to help their peers; it’s also true, too, that faculty did the same. It’s only natural to wonder why the one person with a gun didn’t do the same.
Perhaps attorney and commentator David French said it best in making these insightful points in the wake of the controversy: “1. When you wear the uniform, you pledge to respond to a crisis with courage. 2. Some people will fail that test. 3. That failure is human but still must be punished. 4. But make that judgment with humility. Because none of us knows our true character until it’s tested.”
I’m not trying to defend Peterson’s actions, nor is it make excuses about inaction at the school or errors on the part of police and authorities (all of which should be fully investigated). What I will say is this, though: regardless of what you think of this deputy, regardless of how angry some are over the horrific loss of life: Peterson deserves our prayers.
The immense loss of life and innocence would weigh heavily on anyone in his position and the scrutiny in the wake of the attack — scrutiny that has reportedly led police officers to guard his home — is surely difficult to contend with, especially amid possible pain of regret.
The least we can do, regardless of how we feel, is pray for him and for the victims of this horrendous assault.
Over night, Peterson went from a respected officer to a man whose reputation and actions are being deeply questioned. Whether that’s his fault or not, he deserves our prayers and considerations. We cannot let anger overshadow the call of our faith.
Just consider what a sergeant who evaluated Peterson in 2016 had to say about his conduct and you’ll see the stark nature of this juxtaposition.
“Deputy Peterson is trusted as the School Resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland,” the evaluator said. “He values his position and takes pride in protecting the students, faculty and staff at his school. Deputy Peterson is dependable and reliable and handles issues that arise with tact and solid judgment. He is a positive influence on the students and they respect and appreciate his position.”
And English teacher Felicia Burgin told the Sun-Sentinel that “there is no one that is going to tell you a negative thing about Deputy Peterson.”
We all make mistakes, we are all human. Let’s be careful what we say and how we say it. Rather than pile on, let’s pray. Sure, demand an investigation and fully explore what happened, but let’s refrain from continuing to lambaste and attack the man. Let’s be better.