A Florida state representative has called on Gov. Rick Scott to remove the Broward County sheriff from his position over the department’s response to the high school shooting that left 17 people dead.
Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, sent a letter to Scott Saturday exhorting him to alleviate Sheriff Scott Israel from his duties for “neglect of duty and incompetence, ” the Palm Beach Post reported.
Scott does have the power to remove Israel due to the state’s Statute 112.52, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
Hager cited reports from the media that several Broward sheriff’s deputies waited outside rather than rush in as the alleged gunman, Nikolas Cruz, gunned down students. The Valentine’s Day shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The allegations emerged a day after veteran Broward Deputy Scot Peterson resigned after failing to enter the school. Peterson was assigned to guard the school.
Hager also cited reports that there were “2 3 calls to the Broward Sheriff’s Office relating to Nikolas Cruz and his home, as well a 39 visits by Broward Sheriff Deputies.”
“The Sheriff was fully aware of the threat this individual presented to his community and chose to ignore it, ” Hager wrote.
Israel responded to Hager calling his letter “reckless” and “riddled with factual mistakes, unsupported rumor, and falsehoods.”
Israel disputed Hager’s claim that three deputies were on the school’s campus during the course of its shooting. The sheriff claimed there was “only one law enforcement officer[ Peterson] ” on the campus during the attack.
He also disputed the calls made to the office considering Cruz and his family.
“BSO[ Broward Sheriff’s Office] had a total of 23 calls for service involving Nikolas Cruz or his family; and 18 of those involved Nikolas immediately[ the others involved two brothers ]. Of the 18, nearly all but two involved routine calls from the mother relating to parenting issues, ” Israel wrote.
The sheriff concluded his letter calling on Hager to “publicly apologize for helping to spread this false rumor and misinformation.”
At a news conference Thursday, Israel said Peterson should have “went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.”
Two additional Broward deputies are also under investigation over whether they mishandled warnings about Cruz in the months leading up to the shooting. The FBI has admitted it failed to investigate similar asserts, and the Florida child welfare agency looked into concerns about Cruz, but concluded he wasn’t a risk to himself or others.
Cruz was arrested and charged with 17 countings of premeditated murder.
Scott has not immediately responded to Hager’s letter.
Fox News’ Robert Gearty contributed to this report .
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