Sheriff's Office Disputes CNN Report On Four Deputies At School And 39 Calls To Shooter's Home

Developing . . .

On Saturday, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel released a letter that he sent to Florida Governor Rick Scott that alleges the CNN report claiming that four Broward County Sheriff Deputies waited outside the school while the shooting happened is false.

Israel's letter came in response to Rep. Bill Hager's (R-Boca Raton) letter to Scott earlier on Saturday that urged the Republican Governor to immediately remove Israel from his position. The letter states:

HAGER’S FALSE STATEMENT: “The School Resource Officer and three Broward Sheriff Deputies were on campus at the time of the attack and chose to take cover themselves rather than stepping up to protect students.” – This statement is patently false. Only one law enforcement officer was ever on the campus – at any time – during the attack: Deputy Scot Peterson. Deputy Peterson immediately resigned Thursday after he was placed on unpaid suspension (pending likely termination) after our initial investigation showed he was present outside the 1200 Building but did not enter for at least four minutes of the attack. Coral Springs received the initial 911 call, and were dispatched to the scene knowing it was an active shooter incident, before the call was ever transferred to Regional Communications for dispatch for BSO (and it is believed Coral Springs Police Department officers arrived first at the school). CSPD officers made initial entry at the west doors of the 1200 Building, followed by more CSPD officers and BSO deputies. Unknown to the officers on the initial entry, video shows the killer had already fled the building over four minutes before they first entered the 1200 Building. Also note: BSO has a full active‐shooter training program that all BSO deputies are required to attend (and with recurring refresher training).

CNN’s Jake Tapper was the first to report that the three additional deputies were on scene and did not enter the building as the attack unfolded.

Israel also pushed back on another report from CNN which claimed that Broward County officers were dispatched to the shooter’s home 39 times since 2010. The letter continues:

HAGER’S FALSE STATEMENT: “It has been reported that there were 23 calls to the Broward Sheriff’s Office relating to [shooter's name] and his home, as well as 39 visits by Broward Sheriff Deputies.” –BSO had a total of 23 calls for service involving [shooter's name] or his family; and 18 of those involved [shooter's name] directly (the others involved his brother). Of the 18, nearly all but two involved routine calls from the mother relating to parenting issues (her sons were fighting; her son was banging pool equipment against the house; etc). BSO released the entire list of specifics of each call for service, and none were arrestable offences. Of the two encounters that remain under review, it is worth noting that in a subsequent incident at school, the BSO SRO subsequently referred [shooter's name] to DCF, and [shooter's name] received mental health counseling, DCF supervision for 2.5 months before DCF closed the case. As to the final call which remains under BSO internal investigation: the BSO deputy who handled the call informed the reporting party (and noted in the CAD record) that [shooter's name] no longer resided in our jurisdiction, and advised the reporting party to contact law enforcement in his then‐current county of residence (Palm Beach County). As BSO only had 23 calls for service (including the 18 involving the killer), Mr. Hager’s claim of “39 visits by” BSO deputies is simply fiction.

In a press release, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office reverberated the same information from Israel’s letter to Scott, saying that the claim of 39 visits to the shooter’s home is “SIMPLY NOT TRUE” and that “BSO detectives are investigating the claim from Coral Springs Police Department that some deputies did not go into the school when they should have.”

The press release specifically tells the media to "stop reporting it as a fact. There is no confirmation, at this time, other deputies did not enter the school when they should have. Again it's a claim being investigated to determine if further action is warranted."

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