Days after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel was quick to focus the blame on the NRA.
Now, he is struggling to convince everyone that he deserves no blame.
In a tense interview with Jake Tapper of CNN, Sheriff Israel was confronted with some troubling facts, including the failure of an on-site off-duty deputy to enter the school and confront shooter Nickolas Cruz.
Israel was also shown footage in which he appeared to say that his deputies are supposed to set-up a staging area before entering an active shooter situation.
Israel denied all the accusations, and then claimed that he has shown “amazing leadership.”
Broward County, Fla. Sheriff Scott Israel repeatedly defended his and his department’s actions relating to the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Israel also maintained that he will not resign his post in the wake of public criticism, and blasted a local lawmaker for demanding his ouster.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper challenged Israel on his handling of the shooting and questioned him about now-resigned Deputy Scot Peterson, who took up a position outside the school while the shooting occurred.
Tapper asked if Israel’s office could’ve handled the shooting differently and have prevented the bloodshed.
“If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books,” Israel responded.
“Do you think that if the Broward sheriff’s office had done things differently, this shooting might not have happened?” Tapper asked.
Israel, a former Republican elected twice as a Democrat according to “Reason,” said his agency is focused on prosecuting suspect Nikolas Cruz.
“I can only take responsibility for what I knew about. I exercised my due diligence. I’ve given amazing leadership to this agency,” he said when asked about numerous “red flags” about Cruz that his department allegedly missed.
He repeatedly expressed disgust at Peterson, saying that he was “demoralized” when he found out about the former deputy’s inaction at the site of the shooting.
Tapper also noted that Israel spent a block of time during a televised town hall last week being “rather belligerent” toward the National Rifle Association instead of informing the audience about new developments in the investigation.
Israel said he is not on a “timeline for TV.”
“We need to get it right, we need to get it accurate,” he added, noting that the information he learned that day had not yet been fully corroborated.
Israel was also confronted about a request by State Rep. Bill Hager (R-Boca Raton) to Gov. Rick Scott to remove Israel from office. Sheriff Israel called the letter “shameful and politically motivated.”
— Bill Hager (@RepBillHager) February 24, 2018
Here is video of the CNN interview.