President Donald Trump criticized the Florida sheriff’s deputies who reportedly failed to intervene during the deadly school shooting in Parkland, saying he would have “run in there” to help if he had been there.
“I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon,” Trump said during a White House meeting with U.S. governors to discuss school safety.
The president called the actions of several local law enforcement officers to the attack earlier this month as a national “disgrace,” labeling their job performance “disgusting.”
The president on Friday hammered Scot Peterson, the armed Broward County Sheriff’s deputy who failed to enter the building as a gunman opened fire on students and staffers, killing 17 and wounding several others.
“A security guard doesn’t know the children, doesn’t love the children,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House on Friday. “This man standing outside of the school the other day doesn’t love the children, probably doesn’t know the children.”
Trump suggested Peterson might have failed to act because he was a “coward,” and criticized him for his “poor job” during the attack. The president, who over the past week has pushed for teachers to be allowed to carry concealed weapons as a deterrent for potential shooters, cited the episode as further cause for schools to do away with gun-free zones.
The Miami Herald reported on Friday that it was not just Petersen but rather at least three deputies who waited outside as schoolchildren and staffers were gunned down in Parkland. The lack of immediate response has prompted government officials to call for the Broward County sheriff, Scott Israel, to be suspended or resign.
Israel told CNN on Sunday that it “makes me sick to my stomach we had a deputy who didn’t go in.” But he fended off calls for his own resignation and defended his office’s actions.
“Our deputies have done amazing things,” Israel said. “We’ve taken this — the five years I’ve been sheriff, we’ve taken the Broward Sheriff’s Office to a new level.”