A defiant Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel on Sunday defended his "amazing leadership" of a law enforcement agency that’s come under fire for alleged missteps and lapses surrounding a mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school.
In an exhaustive, 30-minute grilling on CNN’s "State of the Union," Israel declared that he has "no intention" of resigning even as questions swirl about numerous red flags raised about shooter Nikolas Cruz beforehand, and the behavior of deputies at the scene.
A chorus of calls for his resignation include that of Florida State GOP Rep. Bill Hager to Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
"I can only take responsibility for what I knew about," Israel said. "I exercised my due diligence. I've given amazing leadership to this agency."
"Amazing leadership?" CNN host Jake Tapper asked incredulously.
"Yes, Jake," he replied, adding: "I've led this county proudly as I always have. Deputies make mistakes, police officers make mistakes, we all make mistakes but it's not the responsibility of the general — or the president — if you have a deserter."
Tapper also grilled Israel on the stunning revelations of previous warnings about an unhinged Cruz — including a Nov. 30 call to the county sheriff’s office warning that the teenager could be "a school shooter in the making."
And the host noted there were "23 incidents before the shooting involving the shooter and still nothing was done to keep guns out of his hands, to make sure that the school was protected, to make sure you were keeping an eye on him."
"I don't understand how you can sit there and claim amazing leadership?" Tapper said.
Israel responded that in 16 of the cases, "our deputies did everything right. Our deputies have done amazing things. …the five years I've been sheriff, we've taken the Broward sheriff's office to a new level."
"I’ve worked with some of the bravest people I've ever met. One person at this point, one person didn't do what he should have done. It's horrific," he added, referring to Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Scot Peterson, the school's armed resource officer who was forced to retire after it was revealed he did not enter the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during Cruz’s killing rampage.
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