Florida Sheriff, Facing Calls to Resign, Probes His Agency’s Shooting Response — The sheriff’s office said it received 23 calls related to Mr. Cruz before the shooting….

Office says it is looking into reports that additional deputies may not have entered high school where 17 were slain

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, left, has taken criticism since the Feb 14. school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, left, has taken criticism since the Feb 14. school shooting in Parkland, Fla. PHOTO: MONICA MCGIVERN/ZUMA PRESS

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said he is further investigating his officers’ response to the deadly school shooting last week in Parkland Fla. as criticism mounts that the agency failed to stop the gunman.

Detectives with the sheriff’s office are reviewing claims from officers in nearby Coral Springs Police Department that some Broward County deputies failed to enter the school at the appropriate time, the sheriff’s office said late Saturday.

One deputy stationed at the school resigned Thursday after an investigation found he waited outside the building during much of the attack that claimed 17 lives.

“There is no confirmation, at this time, other deputies did not enter the school when they should have,” the office said in a news release. “Again, it’s a claim being investigated to determine if further action is warranted.”

The allegations, reported by several media outlets, were contained in a letter from Republican state lawmaker Bill Hager to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican.

Sheriff Israel responded in his own letter to the governor Saturday, and said Mr. Hager’s claim was false.

“Only one law enforcement officer was ever on the campus—at any time—during the attack” and that was the deputy stationed at the school who resigned, Sheriff Israel said.

Mr. Hager who represents Boca Raton, in neighboring Palm Beach County, called on Mr. Scott to remove Mr. Israel for neglect of duty and incompetence. “The Sheriff was or should have been aware of the threat Cruz presented to his community and chose to ignore it,” said Mr. Hager, referring to alleged school shooter 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

Sheriff Israel, 61 years old, was re-elected for a second four-year term​in 2016. He switched from a Republican to a Democrat to run for sheriff​ in the 2008 race, which he lost. ​ He began his career in law enforcement with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department where he worked as a road patrol officer, in the narcotics division and as SWAT Commander. ​​

In an interview Sunday on CNN, Sheriff Israel called Mr. Hager’s letter “shameful” and defended his actions. “Of course, I won’t resign,” he said. The sheriff office has said it received 23 calls related to Mr. Cruz and his family dating back to 2008.

In the most recent call, at the end of November, the caller said Mr. Cruz was collecting guns and knives and believed he was a school shooter in the making, according to a log provided by the sheriff’s office.

The deputy who handled the call told the caller that Mr. Cruz no longer lived in Broward County, Sheriff Israel said in the letter to Mr. Scott. That deputy also told the caller to notify the local law enforcement agency where Mr. Cruz was living, which was in Palm Beach County, the letter said.

It was one of a host of missed opportunities authorities had to intercept Mr. Cruz before the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The Federal Bureau of Investigation received a call about Mr. Cruz to its tip line in January that also went unheeded.

Two Broward County Sheriff’s deputies have been placed on restricted duty for how they responded to those calls. Sheriff Israel, in his letter to Mr. Scott. said that none of the calls in the log were for “arrestable offences.”

The day of the shooting, nearby Coral Springs Police Department received the initial 911 call, Sheriff Israel said in the letter. He said the Coral Springs officers were believed the first to arrive and enter the school, with Broward County Sheriff’s deputies office arriving later.

Video shows Mr. Cruz fled the school before any law-enforcement officers entered the building, he said.

Write to Joseph De Avila at joseph.deavila@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/florida-sheriff-facing-calls-to-resign-probes-his-agencys-shooting-response-1519574885

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One Response to “Florida Sheriff, Facing Calls to Resign, Probes His Agency’s Shooting Response — The sheriff’s office said it received 23 calls related to Mr. Cruz before the shooting….”

  1. Brittius Says:

    Reblogged this on .

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