Sheriff faces mounting criticism over Florida school massacre

From Reuters - February 25, 2018

(Reuters) - A Florida sheriff came under mounting criticism on Sunday for his deputies response to this months deadly high school shooting and potential warning signs as dozens of state lawmakers called for his ouster and the governor ordered an independent inquiry.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel insisted that only one of his armed deputies is so far known to have been at fault for staying outside the school while it was under attack rather than entering to confront the gunman who shot 17 people to death.

That deputy, identified as the schools assigned resource officer, Scot Petersen, has resigned rather than face suspension and possible dismissal after his actions were caught on video during the massacre, the sheriff acknowledged last week.

News outlets including CNN and NBC have since reported that at least three more armed Broward County sheriffs deputies were present on the scene, taking cover behind their vehicles instead of immediately going into the school.

Israel sought to dismiss those reports, based on unnamed sources from the neighboring Coral Springs Police Department, which also responded to the shooting.

Our investigation to this point shows that during this horrific attack, while this killer was inside the school, there was only one law enforcement person, period, and that was former deputy Scot Peterson, Israel said in a CNN interview on Sunday.

Israel did not rule out, however, that the investigation could find other deputies who failed to act properly during or immediately after the Feb. 14 rampage, which authorities said lasted about six or seven minutes.

The sheriff said separately on Twitter that he welcomed an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, as requested by Governor Rick Scott, to examine the response by local police and the sheriffs office.

This independent, outside review will ensure public confidence in the findings, Israel said.

Fourteen students and three adult educators were slain when a gunman opened fire with a semiautomatic AR-15-style assault rifle inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, an affluent suburb of Fort Lauderdale.

Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student who was expelled last year for disciplinary problems, was later arrested and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.


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