Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel is defending his department’s handling of events leading up to and including the Feb. 14 high school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead.
In an interview with NBC News’ Kerry Sanders about a call his department received on Nov. 30 last year warning that the suspected shooter, former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Nikolas Cruz, “could be a school shooter in the making,” Israel said: “What we’re looking into is did [the deputy] follow up, did he send it over … indications at this point is that he did not.”
Israel said the Broward County Sheriff’s Office will also conduct a thorough investigation into why Deputy Sheriff Scot Peterson did not enter the building when he heard shots being fired. “We know Peterson knew there were shots fired and choose not to go in,” Israel said. Peterson resigned several days after the shooting.
Responding to claims that witnesses from other police departments saw three additional deputies from Broward County arrive and take defensive positions rather than going inside, Israel said: “‘I’m not going to tell you that other Broward Sheriff’s deputies didn’t go in when they should have, but I’m not going to say the opposite either.”
NBC News reported that Republicans from the Florida House of Representatives have sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott demanding that Israel, who is an elected Democrat, either step down or be removed.
But so far Israel has no plans to resign. “I don’t think there is a man or woman in this county who can keep Broward County safer than I can,” Israel told NBC. “I’m proud to be the sheriff and I plan to continue on being the sheriff.”
Marjory Stoneman High School students headed back to school Monday for the first time since the deadly shooting. The school has counselors and emotional support dogs available to help students cope with returning after the massacre, NBC reports.