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Florida Committee Backs Removing Sheriff Over Response to Parkland Shooting

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel speaks at a press conference outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., February 15, 2018 (Thom Baur/Reuters)

The Florida Senate Rules Committee on Monday recommended removing the Broward County sheriff accused of mishandling the February, 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Sheriff Scott Israel has been accused of bungling the response to the shooting by not effectively coordinating officers on the scene, as well as for not properly investigating threats made by the shooter before he acted.

Seventeen students and school staff were killed in the shooting by a former student, who had been expelled from the high school due to disciplinary issues.

Florida Governor Rick DeSantis, a Republican, had campaigned to remove Israel from his post during the Florida general election. DeSantis suspended Israel soon after taking office in January 2019.

The committee’s decision was divided along party lines, with Democrats backing Sheriff Israel.

Now that the committee has recommended Israel’s removal, the full Florida Senate will vote on the matter on Wednesday.

“We didn’t understand the magnitude of the failures by law enforcement,” Ryan Petty, whose 14 year old daughter was killed in the shooting, said in testimony to the committee. “The testament to that failure is 17 dead children and teachers, 17 more with life-altering injuries — a burden we must bear forever.”

Israel’s supporters urged the Senate to reinstate him. The Sheriff was elected to office in 2012.

“Please be the body that doesn’t turn its back on the voters of Broward County,” said Patti Lynn, a backer of Israel. “Our county voted for Sheriff Scott Israel. It’s up to the voters of Broward County to remove him.”

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