When Asked About the Parkland Shooting, the Local Sheriff Went Off on…O.J. Simpson?

Sheriff Scott Israel faces calls to be removed for “gross incompetence.”

Michael Laughlin/ZUMA Press

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In a Sunday morning interview, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel whether he would take any responsibility for the Parkland, Florida school shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Israel said he himself has shown “amazing leadership” of his department and could “only take responsibility for what I knew about.”

But when Tapper pressed him on whether the shooting might never have happened if Israel’s office had acted differently, he had a bizarre response. “If its and buts were candy and nuts, OJ Simpson would still be in the record books,” he said.

Watch the full interview with Israel here:

Florida state representative Bill Hager sent a letter on Saturday to Florida Gov. Rick Scott demanding that Israel be removed for “gross incompetence.” When asked about the letter on Sunday, Israel said that “of course” he wouldn’t resign. “It was a shameful, politically motivated letter that had no facts.”

Israel has faced criticism for how his department dealt with the tragedy after reports surfaced that an armed school resource officer waited outside the school for “upwards of four minutes” while the shooting was taking place. That deputy, Scot Peterson, has since resigned. Meanwhile, multiple other Broward County Sheriff’s deputies are also under investigation for how they responded on the day of the shooting and handled at least 18 calls about the gunman in the years leading up to the massacre. 

Meanwhile, the NRA seems all too happy to let the sheriff’s office take the heat. Asked on This Week about whether civilians should have access to AR-15s, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch deflected, turning attention to how sheriff’s office had not arrested the gunman before the shooting despite multiple warning signs. “I wish as much attention were given to the Broward County sheriff and their abdication of duty as trying to blame 5 million innocent, law-abiding gun owners all across the country,” she said.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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