(JTA) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, over his office’s response to the Parkland school shooting.
DeSantis made the announcement at a news conference Friday evening attended by parents of students killed in the February attack at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“The massacre might never have happened had Broward had better leadership in the Sheriff’s Department,” DeSantis said days after reports surfaced that he would suspend Israel.
DeSantis said on the campaign trail that Israel should be suspended for how he and his office handled the massacre, which killed 17 students and teacher.
At least one armed deputy from Israel’s office did not enter the school building during the attack by a lone gunman. His office also is said to have not responded appropriately to calls expressing concerns about the shooter, a former student at the school, prior to the attack.
“Nothing, nothing, nothing will bring my kid or 16 others back, but there was failure everywhere you turned,” Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime, 14, was killed, said at the news conference. “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.”
Israel, the county’s first Jewish sheriff, said he will challenge his suspension.
“This was about politics, not Parkland,” Israel said Friday after his suspension was announced.
He has acknowledged there were mistakes in his office’s response to the Parkland shooting. Israel has worked in law enforcement for 30 years.