A g****n opened fire at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, just outside of Houston on Friday leaving at least 10 people d**d. Nine students and one adult were among the casualties as the s******g erupted before classes began for the day. Multiple pipe-b*mb-type explosives were also recovered at the school and investigators are still continuing to process the scene. A suspect identified as 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis has been taken into custody. Pagourtzis was said to have been armed with at least one r*fle or shotg*n believed to be legally purchased by his father.
John Barnes, a police officer, was brought to a hospital in critical condition after undergoing surgery after being shot in the chest. This school s******g is considered the worst since the February 14, 2018 school s******g in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when a former student Nikolas Cruz k****d 17 people igniting a national debate on g*n control.
However, there is a significant difference between today’s s******g in Texas versus that of the s******g in February in Florida. Today in Texas a police officer has undergone surgery and remains in critical condition after engaging with the s*****r in an effort to stop him and secure the school. In Parkland, former Broward County sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson failed to engage the s*****r or even enter the building.
Yet the Sun Sentinel has obtained records from the Florida Department of Management Services showing that Peterson is due to collect $8,700 per month in pension from Broward County taxpayers. That works out to slightly more than $104,000 a year. Peterson resigned in disgrace in the weeks after the February 14 s******g when it was revealed that he refused to enter the building where innocent people were being slaughtered.
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According to his own testimony, Peterson was armed, in uniform and was on campus at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14. The New York Times reported the day before Peterson’s resignation that Coral Springs Police Officer Tim Burton had seen Peterson in the school’s parking lot “seeking cover behind a concrete column leading to a stairwell
President Donald Trump twice criticized Peterson, calling him a “coward.” President Trump stated to reporters at the White House: “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. But that’s a case where somebody was outside, they’re trained, they didn’t react properly under pressure or they were coward. It was a real shot to the police department.”
Now 55-year-old Peterson will receive his full annual pension eligible in excess of six figures for the rest of his life and Broward County taxpayers will cover 50% of his health insurance premiums. Peterson had been the school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School since 2009, and he had been an employee of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office since 1985. The Sun Sentinel reports Peterson earned more than $101,000 during his final year of service including a base salary of $75,600 and the additional income coming from overtime pay and other forms of compensation.
According to Reason, this means “Peterson put in at least 25 years at the job, an important threshold for accruing pension benefits under state law. The pensions afforded to Florida’s sheriffs are based on a calculation that starts with an average of the employee’s five highest-paid years. That average is then multiplied by a percentage that varies based on how many years an employee has worked and at what job.
Law enforcement employees and other public employees in so-called “high-risk” positions earn a multiplier of 3 percent for every year worked. (Other public workers earn a lower multiplier, usually 2 percent.) After 25 years of service, a law enforcement employee like Peterson would have earned a pension equal to 75 percent of the average of his five highest-paid years during his final 10 years of employment. Under Florida law, pension payouts are capped at 100 percent of this figure, which is known as a ‘final annual salary.’
This specific situation sheds light on the broader implications of public retirement costs in Florida and around the country. An employee like Peterson, who was by all accounts a typical deputy in the sprawling Broward County Sheriff’s Office before his unfortunate rise to national prominence this month, is afforded a retirement package that kicks in at age 52 and allows him to collect a pension even if he pursues other work after his retirement. It’s vastly different from what most private sector workers can expect to receive. The difference is premised on the idea that Peterson put his life on the line in a high-risk profession. Except, of course, that Peterson did not put his life on the line when the moment arose.
But the payouts are virtually guaranteed, regardless of performance in the line of duty. Under Florida law, public pensions can be revoked for felony offenses that ‘breach the public trust.’ While Peterson’s actions in February may fit the spirit of that law, the letter of the law identifies only a few specific crimes—embezzlement, theft, bribery, and child s*xual assault—for which pensions can be revoked.