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An open letter calling on Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from his post in the wake of the deadly Parkland school shooting was “riddled with factual errors, unsupported gossip, and falsehoods,” Israel said in a statement.
The letter calling for Israel’s removal was issued by Florida Rep. Bill Hager, a Republican representing District 89. In it, Hager referenced reports that three Broward Sheriff’s deputies didn’t enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when they could have. He also criticized Israel for the “failure of his office to conclude this disturbed individual was a threat,” speaking about 19-year-old shooter Nikolas Cruz.
Records show that the Broward Sheriff’s Office had 23 interactions with Cruz and/or his family from November 2008 to 2017. Two law enforcement sources told NBC News that three BSO deputies stayed outside of the freshman building – the site of the tragedy – when they could have gone inside. The reason for the deputies staying outside remains unclear.
In his statement, Israel refuted the claims about the BSO deputies.
“Only one law enforcement officer was ever on the campus – at any time – during the attack: Deputy Scot Peterson,” Israel said. “Deputy Peterson immediately resigned Thursday after he was placed on unpaid suspension (pending likely termination) after our initial investigation showed he was present outside the 1200 Building but did not enter for at least four minutes of the attack.”
Peterson was the school’s resource officer, according to Israel.
Israel continued to say that the Coral Springs Police Department received the initial 911 call about the active shooter and was dispatched to the scene knowing what the situation entailed. According to Israel, this happened before the call was transferred for dispatch to BSO. He added that it’s believed CSPD arrived at the school first.
Israel acknowledged that BSO had 23 interactions with Cruz and/or his family before the shooting, with 18 involving Cruz directly and the others involving his brother. However, he said the calls did not contain arrestable offenses.
When Cruz got into an incident at school, he was referred to the Florida Department of Children and Families, Israel said, where he received mental health counseling and medication.
A 2016 report from the Florida Department of Children and Families said Cruz was seen on the social media app Snapchat cutting both of his arms. Cruz stated he had plans to buy a gun in the same report.
Israel completely denied Hager’s comment that Cruz had 39 visits by BSO deputies.
“As BSO only had 23 calls for service (including the 18 involving the killer), Mr. Hager’s claim of “39 visits by” BSO deputies is simply fiction,” he said.
Israel’s letter was addressed to Gov. Rick Scott and posted on the BSO Twitter page.
The below tweet from BSO includes a link to Israel’s letter:
— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) February 25, 2018