Florida state lawmakers call for sheriff's suspension after Parkland shooting

Florida state lawmakers call for sheriff's suspension after Parkland shooting

Florida state lawmakers on Sunday called on Gov. Rick Scott (R) to suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel for his department's handling of the shooting at a local high school that left 17 people dead.

In a letter to the governor, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R) laid out a series of instances in which Israel’s office failed to address warning signs and reports about 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who police say opened fire on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The letter, which is signed by 73 other Republican lawmakers, also notes that a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the high school remained outside during the shooting. That deputy, Scot Peterson, resigned last week after an internal review.

“Sheriff Israel failed to maintain a culture of alertness, vigilance, and thoroughness amongst his deputies. Sheriff Israel failed to fulfill his duty to ensure that all of his deputies have the necessary active shooter tactical training. As a result of Sheriff Israel’s failures, students and teachers died,” the letter states. 

Israel’s office has come under scrutiny in recent days for its handling of the shooting. He recently revealed that his agency received 18 tips about Cruz prior to this month’s shooting. 

Scott later on Sunday announced that he was asking the state's main law enforcement agency to investigate the police response to the shooting, Politico reported. He elected not to suspend Israel, however.

Israel has defended his performance, saying on CNN's "State of the Union" that he’s given the department “amazing leadership,” and said the entire office should not be judged by the actions of the deputy who did not enter the school. 

“I can only take responsibility for what I knew about. I exercised my due diligence, I’ve given amazing leadership to this agency,” Israel said.

Israel also rejected a call from state Rep. Bill Hager (R) to resign, calling it a “politically motivated” move.

An internal investigation into the sheriff's office response to the shooting is also ongoing.