President Trump said Friday the Florida sheriff’s deputy who failed to stop last week’s mass shooting at a high school was a either a “coward” or froze under extreme pressure.
And he said the revelation of the deputy’s inaction was further vindication for his proposal to arm teachers who — unlike law enforcement — know their schools and “love their students.”
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Thursday that deputy Scot Peterson responded to the shooting last week, but remained outside the school building instead of attempting to stop the shooter, who killed 17 students and teachers. The deputy has resigned.
“When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn’t have the courage or something happened. But he certainly did a poor job. There’s no question about that,” Trump said. “That’s a case where somebody was outside, they’re trained, they didn’t act properly or under pressure or they were a coward. It was a real shock to the police department.”
Trump made the comments before speaking to the Conservative Political Action Committee in National Harbor, Md., where he reiterated his proposal to arm teachers, coaches and staff members who have experience with firearms either through military or law enforcement experience.
“These teachers love their students. And these teachers are talented with weaponry and with guns,” Trump told the annual meeting of conservative activists. “I’d rather have somebody who loves their students and wants to protect their students than someone standing outside who doesn’t know anybody.”
Trump called out the deputy by name — “Deputy Sheriff Peterson, I guess his name is” — and said Peterson had “strained his whole life” by failing to act. He later told the conservative group that Peterson “was not a credit to law enforcement.”
The president’s speech at CPAC speech followed an address by National Rifle Association vice president Wayne LaPierre on Thursday in which he accused gun control advocates of exploiting the school shooting for political gain.
Trump conceded that his proposal to arm teachers was controversial, but emphasized that teachers would be well trained.
“And the beauty is it’s concealed,” he said. “And a teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened.”
Trump also said he’s convinced he can work with the NRA to forge a compromise on gun legislation that could include strengthened background checks. “The NRA is composed of people that I know very well. These are good people, in many cased patriots. They love our country,” he said. “I’ve been speaking to them and they want to do the right thing.”
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