The governor of Florida has called for an probe into the police response to the high school massacre in Parkland, following calls for the local Sheriff to be suspended after the shooting.
Governor Rick Scott said he has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Broward Country Sheriff’s Office ‘immediately’, just hours after 73 House Republicans signed a letter demanding he fires Sheriff Scott Israel.
The BSO has been accused of ignoring several warnings from people close to Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day.
Governor Rick Scott, seen outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has asked for an investigation Broward Country Sheriff’s Office to begin ‘immediately’
The BSO has also been criticised for their immediate response to the shooting after a school resource officer at the scene refused to enter the building when he heard gunfire, and instead stayed outside while the massacre took place.
‘There must be an independent investigation and that is why I asked the FDLE Commissioner to immediately start this process,’ Gov. Scott said in a statement seen by the Sun Sentinel.
‘I have spoken to the Speaker [House Speaker Richard Corcoran] regularly since the shooting, and like me, he wants the families to have answers and for there to be full accountability. That’s what the victims and their families deserve.’
Earlier on Sunday, a letter by Corcoran, signed by 73 Republican lawmakers, demanded that Gov. Scott suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
‘In the years leading up to this unspeakable tragedy, Sheriff Israel, his deputies, and staff ignored repeated warning signs about the violent, erratic, threatening and antisocial behavior of Nikolas Jacob Cruz,’ Corcoran said in a the letter.
Students and their parents are pictured on Sunday as they went back to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School nearly two weeks after a gunman killed 17 students and teachers
Seventeen people dressed as angels stand at the memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Sunday
Sheriff Israel has come under withering scrutiny after the revelation last week that deputy Scot Peterson, the school’s assigned security officer, was nearby when the shooting began but did not go into the building to confront Cruz during the attack.
The sheriff’s office is also facing a backlash for apparently mishandling some of the 18 tipster calls related to the suspected shooter.
The tips were among a series of what authorities now describe as the clearest missed warning signs that Cruz, who had a history of disturbing behavior, posed a serious threat.
Israel defended his leadership Sunday and said investigators were looking into claims that three other deputies were on the scene but failed to enter the school when the chance to save lives still existed.
He also patted himself on the back during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, praising his own ‘amazing leadership’.
When Tapper attempted to get Israel to claim partial responsibility for the fail, he boasted further about his work.
‘Our deputies have done amazing things. In the five years I’ve been sheriff, we’ve taken the Broward Sheriff’s office to a new level. I work with some of the bravest people I’ve ever met.’
Israel defended himself and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office while speaking to CNN Sunday
The Broward County Sheriff’s office received 18 warning calls about Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz (seen in mugshot)
To date, the investigation has pointed to only one deputy being on school grounds while the killer was present, he told CNN.
Israel also labeled as ‘absolutely untrue’ reports that the deputies waited outside even though children were inside the building needing urgent medical treatment.
Israel insisted that lapses were being investigated. He told CNN that a deputy who responded to a Nov. 30 call referring to Cruz as a ‘school shooter in the making’ was being investigated by internal affairs for not filing a report and had been placed on restrictive duty.
‘There needed to be report. And that’s what we are looking into- that a report needed to be completed, it needed to be forwarded to either Homeland Security or a violent crimes unit,’ Israel said.
The FBI has acknowledged that it failed to investigate the tip about Cruz that the agency received on Jan. 5.