BSO Sheriff Refutes 'Falsehoods' About Parkland Shooting - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

BSO Sheriff Refutes 'Falsehoods' About Parkland Shooting

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MIAMI (NBC) -

An open letter calling for the removal of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from his post in the wake of the deadly Parkland school shooting was “riddled with factual errors, unsupported gossip, and falsehoods,” Israel said in a statement.

The letter calling for Fla. Gov. Rick Scott to remove Israel was issued by Florida Rep. Bill Hager, a Republican representing District 89. In it, Hager referenced reports that three Broward Sheriff’s deputies, in addition to the school resource officer, didn’t enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the attack. He also criticized Israel for the “failure of his office to conclude this disturbed individual was a threat,” speaking about 19-year-old alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz.

READ MORE | Parkland shooting: Armed school resource officer ‘never went in’ to school during shooting

His letter came as two law enforcement sources told NBC that three BSO deputies stayed outside of the freshman building – the site of the tragedy – when they could have gone inside, but the reason for the deputies being outside remained unclear.

In his statement, Israel refuted the claims about the BSO deputies, insisting that"only one law enforcement officer was ever on the campus – at any time – during the attack: Deputy Scot Peterson. Deputy Peterson immediately resigned Thursday after he was placed on unpaid suspension (pending likely termination) after our initial investigation showed he was present outside the 1200 Building but did not enter for at least four minutes of the attack.”

Peterson was the school’s resource officer.

Israel went on to explain that the Coral Springs Police Department received the initial 911 call about the active shooter and was dispatched to the scene knowing what the situation entailed. According to Israel, this happened before the call was transferred for dispatch to BSO. 

"CSPD officers made initial entry at the west doors of the 1200 Building, followed by more CSPD officers and BSO deputies," Israel wrote. "Unknown to the officers on the initial entry, video shows the killer had already fled the building over four minutes before they first entered the 1200 Building."

Israel completely denied Hager’s comment that Cruz had 39 visits by BSO deputies. Records show that the Broward Sheriff’s Office had 23 interactions with Cruz and/or his family from November 2008 to 2017, reports say. Israel acknowledged these interactions with Cruz and/or his family before the shooting, saying that 18 involved Cruz directly and the others involved his brother. However, he said the calls did not contain arrestable offenses.

“As BSO only had 23 calls for service (including the 18 involving the killer), Mr. Hager’s claim of '39 visits by' BSO deputies is simply fiction,” he said.

When Cruz got into an incident at school, he was referred to the Florida Department of Children and Families, Israel said, where he received mental health counseling and medication.

A 2016 report from the Florida Department of Children and Families said Cruz was seen on the social media app Snapchat cutting both of his arms. Cruz stated he had plans to buy a gun in the same report.

Israel also attacked Hager's claim that the BSO had been previously reviewed for its conduct, saying "it is patently obvious that Mr. Hager has zero comprehension of law enforcement. After any major critical incident, all law enforcement agencies prepare self-assessments. This is so an agency can learn from how the incident was handled and be even better the next time."

Israel's letter was addressed to Gov. Rick Scott and posted on the BSO Twitter page.

The below tweet from BSO includes a link to Israel's letter:

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