Florida official calls for sheriff’s removal over handling of shooting

Posted at 8:50 AM, Feb 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-25 10:50:06-05

FLORIDA – A Florida state representative is calling on Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from his post for his deputies’ “incomprehensible inaction” during the high school massacre.

“An investigation into the incomprehensible inaction of these deputies by Sheriff Israel will do nothing to bring back the 17 victims,” Bill Hager said in a letter to the governor, referring to the students and teachers confessed shooter, Nikolas Cruz, killed.

“The Sheriff was or should have been aware of the threat Cruz presented to his community and chose to ignore it.”

In his letter, Hager cites Florida statute 112.52, which he says gives Scott “removal authority for neglect of duty and incompetence.”

His call came after Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ armed school resource officer, Deputy Scot Peterson, resigned Thursday after he was suspended amid accusations he did nothing to stop the massacre.

Israel says Peterson never went into building where the shooter was firing at students, instead taking a position outside.

In a letter of response to the governor, Israel said he was proud of the work that many of his deputies and other agencies did the day of the shooting and that he was appalled by Hager’s “need to engage in disingenuous political grandstanding, perhaps in the hope he will garner some headlines, at the expense of the truth.”

He also said that Hager’s letter “was riddled with factual errors, unsupported gossip, and falsehoods.”

Deputy suspended

Israel made the decision to suspend Peterson — who was armed and in uniform at the time of the shooting — after interviewing the deputy and reviewing footage and witness statements, he said.

“What I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of building 12, take up a position,” Israel said of the video. “And he never went in.”

Israel told reporters Peterson should have “[w]ent in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.” Instead, the deputy waited outside for about four minutes.

During that time, Israel said, Peterson got on his radio and took a position where he could see the western entry of the building.

Officers from the nearby Coral Springs Police Department who also responded to the shooting say they were surprised to find three other Broward County deputies had also not entered the building when they arrived, sources tell CNN.

Other deputies may have also been outside school

The deputies had their pistols drawn and were behind their vehicles, the sources said. None of them had gone into the school.

With direction from the Broward deputies who were outside, Coral Springs police soon entered the building. Additional Broward County sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene, and two of those deputies and an officer from the nearby Sunrise Police Department joined the Coral Springs police as they went into the building.

It’s unclear whether the shooter was still in the building when they arrived.

Sources cautioned that tapes are under review and official accounts could ultimately differ from recollections of officers on the scene.