Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel faced a tough round of questioning on Sunday morning from CNN’s Jake Tapper over law enforcement officials’ multiple missteps leading up to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Israel claimed he has exhibited “amazing leadership” as sheriff and insisted he wouldn’t resign, as more information is revealed about how the department failed to act on multiple red flags about the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, in the months leading up to the massacre which killed 17 people.
“There’s 17 dead people and there’s a whole long list of things your department could have done differently,” Tapper told the sheriff.
Tapper pressed Israel in particular about the school resource officer who did not enter the building during the shooting in an attempt to neutralize the shooter. Israel said he wasn’t responsible for the actions of one individual.
“I have exercised my due diligence. I’ve led this county proudly as I always have. We have restricted that deputy as we look into it,” Israel said during a 28-minute interview on CNN’s State of the Union. “Deputies make mistakes, police officers make mistakes, we all make mistakes. But it’s not the responsibility of the general or the president if you have a deserter.”
Tapper responded: “Are you really not taking any responsibility for the multiple red flags that were brought to the attention of the Broward sheriff's office about this shooter before the incident—whether it was people near him, close to him calling the police on him?”
Israel said his leadership shouldn’t be judged based on the actions of one officer, but Tapper pointed out that there were “23 incidents before the shooting involving the shooter,” adding: “I don’t understand how you can sit there and claim amazing leadership.”
Local officials have called on Israel to step down due to the department’s handling of the shooting. State Rep. Bill Hager (R) wrote in a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) that Israel was “fully aware of the threat” that Cruz posed, and “chose to ignore it.”
Israel said Hager’s letter was “shameful” and “politically motivated,” adding: “Of course I won’t resign.”
In addition to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI field office in Miami also acknowledged that it did not properly address concerns about Cruz that were relayed to the agency via a tipster.