New details emerge on Florida shooting when Jake Tapper and local sheriff go toe-to-toe in marathon interview

  • CNN host Jake Tapper engaged in a long back-and-forth with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel on Sunday.
  • Israel said he would not resign after a Florida state lawmaker suggested he step down following his department's shortcomings in the Parkland school shooting.
  • He also defended his department's conduct on 18 tips they received about suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz's behavior and inclination to violence before the shooting.
  • In addition, Israel said he was "disgusted" by the inaction of one of his deputies, but did not rule out the possibility that the shooting might not have happened had his office responded differently.


CNN host Jake Tapper took nearly half his show to grill Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel on Sunday.

Tapper asked about the law enforcement response to the Florida school shooting that killed 17 people, and allowed the long-time sheriff to tell his side of the story after numerous allegations of negligence at his department have emerged.

Israel's department has been accused of ignoring tips about 19-year-old suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz, and for an inadequate response to the shooting in the moments after it started. As more details about the shooting have emerged, questions have mounted about dozens of warning signs that law enforcement missed about Cruz.

Now, in a letter sent to Florida Governor Rick Scott, Florida state Rep. Bill Hager has called on Israel to resign on account of these claims, but Israel said he was having none of it.

"Of course I won't resign," he said on "State of the Union" Sunday. "It was a shameful letter, it was politically motivated, I never met that man, he doesn’t know anything about me, and the letter was full of misinformation."

Israel said he was "disgusted" by the inaction of deputy Scot Peterson, who resigned on Thursday after it emerged that Peterson, who was armed, never entered the school building while the gunman opened fire.

RELATED: A timeline of how the Florida high school shooting unfolded

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A timeline of how the Florida high school shooting unfolded
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A timeline of how the Florida high school shooting unfolded

Wednesday, February 14, 2018: Sometime after 2 p.m. the gunman begins to make his approach to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, near Fort Lauderdale. 

(Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

2:30 p.m.: The shooting begins.

According to CNN, people first heard shots at 2:30 p.m. Several witnesses have said the gunman pulled the fire alarm before shooting so that people would run into his line of fire.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

2:35 p.m.: Some of the first signs to the outside world that a shooting was underway come from social media. One Twitter user noted that students were texting the about the shooting.
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all hell is breaking loose at Douglas high school @Coralspringsfla kids texting about a shooter ???? https://t.co/7NnoipVJpy

2:53 p.m.: Twenty minutes later the Broward County Sheriff's Office publicly acknowledges that a shooting is underway.
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#BSO is working a developing incident regarding a report of active shooter located at 5901 Pine Island Rd, Parkland… https://t.co/zrKtdjDxcb

The shooter's exact movements inside the school are not clear. This video was recorded by a student inside a classroom, where gunshots and screaming can be heard.
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JUST IN (warning, disturbing video): Cell phone video inside the school as shots were going off at Marjory Stoneman… https://t.co/UAHNy8LnAu

2:55 p.m.: Local media report five injuries in the shooting, the first sense of its scale.
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Appears there are at least 5 people injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Coral Springs after reports… https://t.co/GB3K6tliYy

People are told to avoid the area.
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Avoid the area of Stoneman Douglas HS. #BSO is currently working a developing incident regarding a report of active shooter.

3:10 p.m.: A student tweets an image of the inside of his classroom where he and classmates are hiding.
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Still locked in. I checked the local news and there is 20 victims. Long live Majory Stoneman Douglas High. https://t.co/4kQMAlCBWt

3:11 p.m.: Sheriffs confirm that the shooter remains at large.
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Follow @browardsheriff for latest info on the #stonemanshooting. Shooter still at large.

3:15 p.m.: Students are seen running from the school grounds.
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​​​​​​​MORE: Aerial footage above Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shows students running from grounds of campus after… https://t.co/riKt7KAbT4

Deputies said that Cruz tried to hide himself among the students running away from the shooting.
They eventually identified him by examining surveillance footage and picking him out from the crowd. A witness told the Miami Herald newspaper that Cruz had put on a military ROTC uniform like those used in class while he was running.

(John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

3:58 p.m.: Cruz is arrested around a mile from the school by the neighboring Coconut Creek Police Department. The incident is recorded by a news helicopter.
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Possible suspect in custody in #FloridaShooting #StonemanShooting. @wsvn https://t.co/gxisLcEVGf
At about the same time, President Donald Trump sends his "prayers and condolences" to victims.
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My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or an… https://t.co/RFJxgM1jhm

Shortly after the tweet, some students who survived the shooting responded in anger.

(Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

4:11 p.m.: Sheriffs confirm that the suspect had been arrested. Cruz is not yet named.
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Shooter is now in custody. Scene is still active. #stonemanshooting

4:27 p.m.: Cruz exhibits "labored breathing" after his arrest and was taken to hospital as a precaution. Local news outlets photographed him being loaded up for the journey.
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Photo: Suspect is loaded into fire rescue to be transported to hospital https://t.co/SP0rJg5tY5

4:22 p.m.: Sheriffs say 14 people were shot. The figure later increases.
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So far we have at least 14 victims. Victims have been and continue to be transported to Broward Health Medical Cent… https://t.co/hWUp5BuMcB

4:30 p.m.: The Associated Press reports that the shooting resulted in "numerous fatalities," the first indication that victims had died.

(John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

4:34 p.m.: The first videos of the arrest emerge.
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#NEW: Longer video of suspect arrested @wsvn https://t.co/2ZHmCd69rV

4:59 p.m.: Sheriffs say students are still inside the school and are being removed from classrooms by SWAT teams. The school has about 3,100 students.

(John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

5:15 p.m.: Video on social media shows SWAT teams evacuating students from their hiding places.
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My little brother just sent me this video of the swat team evacuating his classroom at stoneman douglas. So scary b… https://t.co/inomdpbpmS

5:30 p.m.: Local and national media begin to name the suspect as Nikolas Cruz. Some initially spell his first name Nicolas, or Nikolaus.
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UPDATE: US official: Parkland school shooter identified as Nicolas Cruz.
5:39 p.m.: Parents, who were being held at a staging area near the school, begin to be reunited with their children.
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Parents and families of Westglades Middle School can now pick-up students at the school. Pine Island Road has been… https://t.co/Pkg6ixPiBR

6:27 p.m.: Authorities confirm deaths for the first time (previous statements referred only to "victims"). Their death toll is 17.
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Business Insider has been keeping track of the identities of those killed and wounded in the attack. Click here for a full rundown.

"I'm saddened to say that 17 people lost their lives."- Sheriff Scott Israel #stonemanshooting

7:36 p.m.: Media outlets are allowed to get close to the outside of the school. The local channel WSVN broadcasts footage of classroom windows with bullet hotels.
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A window riddled with bullet holes could be seen at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in #Parkland https://t.co/aQ0zei1FX9

8:24 p.m.: A local correspondent tweets a clear photograph of the suspect.
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#BREAKING: Extremely clear picture of suspect captured by police @wsvn https://t.co/v4AiyIFFs1

Thursday 15th February, 5:39 a.m.: Reporters watch Cruz getting booked in to the Broward County Jail.
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BREAKING: deputies bring suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz to Broward County Jail @WPLGLocal10 #StonemanHighSchool https://t.co/718lffPkMo

Around 6:30 a.m.: Sheriffs publish jail booking details for Cruz, including his mugshot. He is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
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The entry is hosted on the Broward County Sheriff's website.

It lists Cruz's date of birth, physical characteristics, and lists the 17 separate murders with which he has been charged.

(Photo by Broward's Sheriff's Office via Getty Images)
7:12 a.m.: Trump tweets, saying the shooter was "mentally disturbed."
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So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavi… https://t.co/3mSYrtTng6

8:22 a.m.: A teen who survived the shooting pleads for action, saying "we're children. you guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role."
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David Hogg survivor of Fl. school shooting: "we're children. you guys are the adults. you need to take some action… https://t.co/6KXQuGpDxd

Throughout the morning, we learn new details about Cruz's personal history. Cruz was adopted. He had been living with the family of a classmates since both of his adoptive parents are deceased, ABC News reported.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

8:33 a.m.: BuzzFeed News' Tom Namako reports that Cruz legally purchased the AR-15 that he used to carry out the shooting.
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BREAKING: Law enforcement official: Ex-student suspected in Florida school shooting legally purchased AR-15 rifle about a year ago.

Around 10:30 a.m.: FBI special agent Robert Lasky confirms that a YouTube user named Nikolas Cruz posted, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter" in the comments section of a video in September.

The FBI was unable to confirm whether the account that made the comment belonged to Cruz, the suspected school shooter.

(Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

11 a.m.: Trump addresses the country.

"It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference," Trump said. "We must actually make that difference."

The speech focused on combatting mental health. Trump also said he plans to visit Parkland to console families and local officials at some point in the near future.

(AFP/Getty Images)

After Trump's speech, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he intends to meet with state leaders next week in Tallahassee to discuss potential legislation dealing with mental health.

"The violence has to stop. We cannot lose another child in this country to violence in a school," Scott said at a news conference on Thursday. "If someone is mentally ill, they should not have access to a gun … None of us want anything like this to happen again."

(Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

12:12 p.m.: Former President Barack Obama tweets in support of "common-sense gun safety laws."
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We are grieving with Parkland. But we are not powerless. Caring for our kids is our first job. And until we can hon… https://t.co/LWGSkzRapH

12:51 p.m.: The AP reports that the leader of a white nationalist group — called the Republic of Florida — claimed Cruz was a member of the organization.
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Jordan Jereb told The Associated Press that his group, Republic of Florida, wants Florida to become its own white ethno-state. ROF describes itself as a "white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics," according to the Anti-Defamation League.

He added that he didn't know Cruz personally and that Cruz "acted on his own behalf of what he just did and he's solely responsible for what he just did."

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — Leader of white nationalist group has confirmed suspect in Florida school shooting was member of his organization

Around 2 p.m.: A judge ordered Cruz held without bond on 17 murder charges.

(Susan Stocker/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

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"That’s what I saw, and when I saw that, I was disgusted," Israel told Tapper. "I was just demoralized with the performance of former deputy Peterson. And that's why I called him in, and suspended him without pay as we were going to move toward termination. And he resigned."

Associated PressGov. Scott made similar statements on Fox News's "Fox News Sunday."

"We have to do a thorough investigation, and whoever didn't do their job has to be held accountable," he said. "There’s no one I talk to that is not disgusted that the local sheriff's deputy that was there did not go in and kill that individual."

Despite Peterson's failure to try to prevent the mass shooting, Israel said, his behavior does not reflect on the department's performance.

"I can only take responsibility for what I knew about," Israel told Tapper. "I've given amazing leadership to this agency ... you don't measure a person's leadership by a deputy."

Israel said only Peterson's actions during the shooting are under investigation at the moment. While there were other claims about deputies standing by after the shooting had stopped, Israel maintained that there is no definitive evidence of any further wrongdoing.

"Let me be perfectly clear, our investigation to this point shows that during this horrific attack while this killer was inside the school, there was only one law enforcement person, period, and that was former deputy Scot Peterson," he said. "At this point we have no reason to believe anyone acted incorrectly or correctly — that's the point of an investigation."

When asked by Tapper if he thought the shooting might have been prevented had his department responded differently, Israel responded with a rather vague statement.

"If ifs and butts were candy and nuts OJ Simpson would still be in the record books," Israel said. "We understand everything wasn't done perfectly... We want to get it right."

 

Missed clues in the lead-up to the shooting

But Tapper had Israel answer for other alleged shortcomings within Israel's department. He pressed him about the 18 calls that were made to the department regarding Cruz's instability and behavior. The department also received a tip about a school shooting threat that Cruz on Instagram.

"Of those 18 calls, 16 we believe were handled exactly they way they should," Israel said. "Two of them we're not sure if our deputies did everything they could have or should have ... but we're looking into those two calls, and we will absolutely find out what we did and didn't do, and we'll handle that accordingly."

Israel was not sure exactly how the tip about the Instagram threat had been handled.

"I'm not sure if anything was done with that information," he said.

The Broward Sheriff's department posted a response to requests about these missed tips on Twitter:

Toward the end of the interview, Israel gave Tapper his thoughts on what should be done to ensure that police departments are able to more accurately responded to these kinds of tips and potentially devastating threats.

"The whole crux of this is giving law enforcement, giving deputies, giving police officers, not only in Broward County but in Florida and around the nation expanded power to be able to do something more than just write a report," Israel said.

NOW WATCH: Henry Blodget: Will arming teachers guns help stop school shootings?

See Also:

SEE ALSO: Armed deputy stood frozen outside Florida high school for 4 minutes as the shooting unfolded and did 'nothing'

DON'T MISS: Authorities missed dozens of warning signs about the Florida shooting suspect before the massacre

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