Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Sunday he was "disgusted" by the inaction of the deputy assigned to protect Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School but maintained only one deputy was on the scene of the fatal shooting rampage on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida that resulted in 17 deaths.
Israel appeared on CNN's State of The Union to discuss the ongoing investigation into his department's handling of the school shooting, including the deputy who reportedly waited outside as gunfire tore apart the school.
Sheriff Israel spoke to CNN anchor Jake Tapper for nearly half an hour on the air, fielding questions on his recollection of the Feb. 14 shooting and the various investigations still trying to piece together this national tragedy. Tapper focused a lot of their screen time on the accusations that Broward County Sheriff's deputies failed to act as 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz fired on students and teachers for about six minutes inside the school.
Deputy Scot Peterson, the school's resource officer, was on campus at the time of the shooting. However, as Israel confirmed in the interview, Peterson stood outside the building with his gun drawn for about four minutes while the shooter was taking lives. Peterson has since resigned from his position. Tapper played a video clip of one of the student survivors describing Peterson's actions, then asked for Israel's reaction.
"That's what I saw. And when I saw that, I was disgusted. 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 towards termination. And he resigned," he said. Tapper asked if Peterson had told Israel why he didn't go into the school.
"He did not," Israel said simply.
Israel also said he would not resign in the midst other serious questions about the Broward Sheriff Office's performance.
Tapper brought up that multiple sources in the neighboring Coral Springs Police Department told reporters that as many as four Broward Sheriff's deputies stood behind cars, not entering the building in the minutes immediately after the shooting.
Israel clarified that Peterson was the only officer on campus during the actual six minutes of gunfire. After that, he says his investigation shows that Coral Springs officers entered the school within four minutes. "We do know, Jake, that Deputy Peterson at the time uttered — he disseminated information over the police radio. We don't know why those deputies — what those deputies heard. Perhaps they did something by what they heard from Peterson," he said.
Tapper pushed the subject, noting that most of the timelines show that there were already several Broward County deputies on the scene when those Coral Springs officers arrived.
"I don't dispute that, but that is an active investigation. We have not taken statements yet from the Coral Springs officers."
A major point of contention was exactly when Israel found out that Peterson hadn't gone into the school during the shooting.
"Not for days," Israel said when asked when he found out.
"How many days?" Tapper asked.
"I'm not sure," Israel said.
Tapper pointed out that Israel hadn't disclosed the information about Peterson at the CNN town hall on Wednesday night. "Did you know it then?" he asked.
"It was spoken about during that — earlier during that day," Israel said. "I'm not on a timeline for TV or any news show. We need to get it right. We need to get it accurate. We're talking about people's lives. We're talking about a community. We need to corroborate, we need to verify."0comments
Tapper pressed Israel on a number of other subjects throughout the interview, but the sheriff consistently returned to the point that the investigation is ongoing.
"At this point, we have no reason to believe that any one acted incorrectly or correctly," he said. "That's what an investigation is."