President Trump condemned the Broward County Sheriff’s deputy who was found to have never entered the Parkland, Fla., high school during last week’s shooting, saying he lacked “courage” and “did a poor job.”
“When it came time to get in there and do something, he did not have the courage, or something happened,” Trump told reporters Friday before departing for the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. “But he certainly did a poor job. There is no question about that.”
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel revealed Thursday that Scot Peterson, the school resource officer assigned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, responded to the shooting but remained outside of the school’s freshman building and did not enter the school.
Israel said Peterson, who was armed and in uniform, did “nothing.”
“That’s a case where somebody was outside, they’re trained. They didn’t react properly under pressure or they were a coward,” Trump said of Peterson. “It was a real shot to the police department.”
The president also defended the National Rifle Association on Friday as the organization endures criticism amid calls for stricter gun laws following last week’s shooting.
“The NRA is composed of people that I know very well. These are good people, in many cases, great people. They are patriots. They love our country,” he said. “The NRA wants to do the right thing. I’ve been speaking to them, and they want to do the right thing.”
In the wake of the shooting, which left 17 dead and at least a dozen injured, Trump met with students and parents of the South Florida high school to discuss proposals to combat gun violence.
He has since called for more comprehensive background checks and also floated a proposal to arm some “gun-adept” teachers who have received training.
The president reiterated his commitment to passing legislation aimed at addressing gun laws Friday, and said the issue of school shootings has spanned decades.
“We are going to get it fixed, but the only way you are going to get it fixed is you have to have a certain degree of offensive power within the school. It can't only be defense,” Trump said. “You have to have protection within the schools. And we are going to work it out. We are going to be very, very powerful, strong on background checks, especially having to do with people with mental problems.”