By Linda Trischitta Sun Sentinel
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Former Parkland sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson is looking for money on GoFundMe, but he’s getting mostly heat.
Peterson, the school cop who failed to confront the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooter on Feb. 14, has a GoFundMe account to raise money for legal expenses. It was created by lawyer Joseph DiRuzzo and seeks to raise $150,000 for Peterson.
At first it drew more insulting comments than cash.
One poster with the name Ian wrote: “Scott. You failed the community and the students you were sworn to protect. I am an unarmed security guard and would have still ran to and tried to stop the threat that day. Maybe you should look in the mirror instead of feeling sorry for yourself and realize that this is on you!”
Another writer called Bruce said in part, “This GoFundMe is just sad and a slap in the face to the KIDS THAT DIED BECAUSE YOU DID NOTHING!!”
The donation page says, “Mr. Peterson has been forced to hire counsel (with extensive experience in contesting the propriety of subpoenas) to defend him against any spurious claims of criminal liability.”
Created Wednesday, it listed a $20 anonymous donation made Friday. By 10:30 a.m., more than 25 people had left mostly negative comments. There were a few “likes,” but it was unclear if that was for the fund or in support of what others had written.
By noon, all of the comments vanished from the page and another $10 was donated. By 3:30 p.m., the campaign could not be found on the GoFundMe website.
DiRuzzo said in an email late Friday that the website took it down and that he hopes it’s back online soon.
In April, Peterson began receiving state pension payments of $8,700 a month, or an estimated $104,424 annually. DiRuzzo said in an email late Friday that the website took it down and that he hopes it’s back online soon.
His lawyer told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that legal bills could surpass that amount.
DiRuzzo said: “You are well aware of the cost of litigation. Could you afford over $100,000 in litigation?”
At a meeting Thursday of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, DiRuzzo said Peterson would not testify and had sued to stop the commission from subpoenaing him.
Peterson’s lawsuit accuses the commission of issuing subpoenas to assist the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in a criminal investigation. The FDLE is investigating law enforcement’s response to the shooting but has not identified the subject of its criminal investigation.
DiRuzzo also issued a news release accusing the commission of suppressing a list of facts favorable to Peterson’s actions.
“Instead of being a neutral fact-finding body, the Commission has succumbed to the not-so-thinly veiled personal agendas of the commission members,” DiRuzzo’s news release said.
Tony Montalto, a Parkland parent who lost his daughter Gina, a 14-year-old freshman, in the shootings, said Friday, “Former deputy Peterson has his lifetime earnings and sadly, his pension to cover the legal bills that he may face regarding his failure to do his job.
“He had a good life, he’s got a retirement and those are things that — due in part to his actions — are not available to the people who passed that day,” Montalto said.
“GoFundMe accounts are generally set up to help people to do good things,” Montalto said. “Clearly, former deputy Peterson did not do good things on Feb. 14. He failed to perform and clearly contributed to the death of some students and teachers that day. He should not be asking for money now, when he declined his chance to tell his story for free in front of the MSD commission yesterday.”