Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Suspends Broward County Sheriff Over Parkland Shooting Response

Florida's new Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel on Friday over his department's response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and his handling of the aftermath.

Just three days after taking office, DeSantis flew to Fort Lauderdale to relieve Israel, a Democrat, and name a former police sergeant as acting sheriff.

"Sheriff Israel has repeatedly failed and has demonstrated a pattern of poor leadership," DeSantis' office said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. "He failed to protect Floridians and visitors during the tragic Fort Lauderdale International Airport shooting in 2017. He failed in his duties to keep our families and children safe during the devastating shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018. These incidents demonstrate Sheriff's Israel's repeated incompetence and neglect of duty."

Florida law allows the governor to remove elected officials for criminal activity, incompetence or neglect of duty. Israel, who has been sheriff since 2012, intends to appeal DeSantis' decision to the Florida state senate.

"There was no wrongdoing on my part," Israel said Friday in response to DeSantis' decision. "I served the county honorably,"

In the wake of the February massacre at Stoneman Douglas, Israel and the Broward County Sheriff's Office were widely criticized when it was revealed that a sheriff's deputy assigned to the school did not enter the building to confront the shooter. Israel also came under fire for his public statements after the shooting, in which he said he had provided "amazing leadership" and downplayed reports that his deputies had disregarded multiple tips that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was a potential threat.

A total of 17 students and educators were killed when Cruz went on a shooting rampage with an AR-15-style rifle at Stoneman Douglas, a high school of more than 3,000 students in Parkland, Florida.

DeSantis made the announcement at the Broward County Sheriff's Office headquarters in Fort Lauderdale flanked by survivors from the Parkland shooting. Some parents of Stoneman Douglas students had been pushing for Israel's ouster after former Gov. Rick Scott refused to dismiss him.

"Nothing, nothing, nothing will bring my kid or 16 others back, but there was failure everywhere you turned," said Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was killed in the attack. "And after that failure, there was just a refusal to take accountability and responsibility. I wish him well but it was time for a change."

Gregory Tony, 40, was named as acting Broward County sheriff. Tony worked for the Coral Springs Police Department for 12 years before starting a company that trains active shooter responders in 2016.

He is the first African-American to serve as Broward County sheriff, according to the AP.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Suspends Broward County Sheriff Over Parkland Shooting Response | U.S.