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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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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