Should Gov. Scott remove Broward Sheriff Israel over Parkland shooting?

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel with Gov. Rick Scott at a news conference in Parkland the morning after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting that claimed 17 lives. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

State Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, is urging Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel over his agency’s handling of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland.

State Rep. Bill Hager

Israel calls Hager’s request “reckless” and “disingenuous political grandstanding” and says the House member’s letter to the governor is “riddled with factual errors, unsupported gossip and falsehoods.”

 

Click here to read Hager’s letter accusing Israel of “neglect of duty and incompetence.”

Click here to read Israel’s response blasting Hager and defending the “incredible work” of his agency.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office  had 23 interactions with gunman Nikolas Cruz or his family from November 2008 to November 2017, according to records. When the shooting occurred, the Broward deputy assigned to be the school’s security officer, Scot Peterson of unincorporated Boynton Beach, remained outside the building for four minutes while the shooting was taking place, Israel said.

CNN reported Friday that when police from neighboring Coral Springs arrived at the school, they found three other Broward deputies who were outside the building but did not go in.

In a statement posted on its Twitter account Saturday night, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said the CNN report is merely a “claim” that’s under investigation and the media should “Stop reporting it as fact. There is no confirmation.”

The statement also says the 23 interactions with Cruz or his family are lower than some had claimed. “STOP REPORTING 39; IT’S SIMPLY NOT TRUE,” the statement says, adding that the incidents to which deputies were called were determined to not be “arrestable offenses.”

In a letter to Scott responding to Hager, Israel says: “I am very proud of the incredible work that so many from BSO and other agencies (including CSPD, FDLE, Sunrise, FBI, ATF and others) performed on February 14. And I am equally appalled that Rep. Hager felt a need to engage in disingenuous political grandstanding, perhaps in the hope he will garner some headlines, at the expense of the truth. I would urge Rep. Hager to publicly apologize for helping to spreading this false gossip and misinformation.”

 

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