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

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.

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.