Detective: Florida school shooting deputy statement faulty

(John McCall | South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool) In this Jan. 16, 2019 file photo, Parkland school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz sits during a status hearing at the Broward Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. A Florida judge has denied an effort by defense attorneys to hold the Broward Sheriff's Office in contempt of court for releasing Cruz's medical records to a state investigative commission. The order dated Tuesday, Jan. 22, by Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer says the records release was limited, not done in bad faith and was an isolated incident.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. • A Florida detective told investigators the former deputy entrusted to protect a high school where 17 people died in a mass shooting last year gave an initial statement filled with inaccuracies about his actions.

Broward Sheriff’s Office Detective John Curcio told investigators that ex-deputy Scot Peterson’s story about what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland contains many inconsistencies when compared with video evidence.

"There is almost, on every detail that he gave in the statement, inaccuracies," Curcio said.

Curcio is the lead investigator in the criminal case against Nikolas Cruz, 20, who faces the death penalty if convicted in the shooting. The detective’s statement released Tuesday by prosecutors was given to Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents working with a state commission looking into the law enforcement response to the February 2018 mass shooting.

The commission, which released a sweeping report critical of the response and recommended improvements, has found Peterson was derelict in his duty for not confronting the gunman and instead staying outside while shots rang out. The FDLE also has begun a criminal investigation into the response. Peterson's lawyer declined comment and Peterson himself resigned from the agency months ago.

Curcio said Peterson told him two days after the massacre — before Curcio had viewed video of Peterson's actions — that he didn't know where the shots were coming from, thought there may have been a sniper on top of the building and that he only heard up to three shots.

"The two to three shots he claims he heard were actually over 70 shots going off inside the building," Curcio said.

Curcio added that Peterson surely knew what his duty was in an active shooter situation.

"Every moment you distract the shooter, he's not shooting kids," Curcio said. "He's a school resource officer. He certainly knew what he was supposed to do."

In another development, a judge has denied an effort by defense attorneys to hold the Broward Sheriff’s Office in contempt of court for releasing Cruz’s medical records to the commission.

The order dated Tuesday by Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer says the records release was limited, not done in bad faith and was an isolated incident. Scherer also says the sheriff's office may not have been aware of restrictions she had placed on the records.

Defense lawyers wanted Judge Scherer to hold a hearing on whether the sheriff's office should be found in contempt of court for a violating her previous order limiting release of the records.

Meanwhile, a California man is accused of using Instagram to "harass and intimidate" the families of students killed in the shooting.

A criminal complaint filed in federal court says Brandon Fleury of Santa Ana, California, began the taunts Dec. 22 using different accounts which were traced to an IP address in Santa Ana, where Fleury lives with his father and brother. He was arrested Friday.

Special Agent Cameron McDowell wrote in a 12-page report filed Friday that Fleury showed no remorse when questioned Jan. 16 and that he admitted to a fascination with the mass shooting.

Fleury’s father, Patrick Fleury, told the SunSentinel it was a “bunch of nonsense” and declined to say whether his son has a lawyer.