The Broward County Sheriff’s Office is investigating reports that three of its deputies remained outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the midst of the Feb. 14 shooting rampage, instead of entering the school, Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed to ABC News.
“If there is no wrongdoing in the part of our deputies, we’ll move on,” Israel said Friday. “If there is wrongdoing on the part of our deputies, we’ll handle it accordingly as I have for 5 years as sheriff.”
Israel was responding to reports by CNN and South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel newspaper, which which cited unnamed police sources within the Coral Springs Police Department, claiming that Coral Springs officers were shocked to arrive at the scene and see the Broward deputies still outside, with their pistols drawn and behind their vehicles. Coral Springs neighbors Parkland, where the shooting rampage that claimed 17 lives occurred.
ABC News has not confirmed those reports, nor is it clear if gunman Nikolas Cruz was inside the school when the Coral Springs officers say they arrived.
But Israel doesn’t need to rely on those reports — his office is hearing it directly from his colleagues in Coral Springs, he said.
“This information came to us from Chief [Anthony] Pustizzi of Coral Springs,” Israel said. “He relayed it to one of my colonels, my colonel filled me in, we immediately decided that the course of action we’re going to take is meet with the Chief and ask for permission to interview his officers. Contingent upon what they say we will head our investigation in whatever way we need to.”
Israel continued, “We will dot every I, cross every T. We’ll do it in a meticulous manner. If there is no wrongdoing in the part of our deputies, we’ll move on. If there is wrongdoing on the part of our deputies, we’ll handle it accordingly as I have for 5 years as sheriff.”
These reports follow the suspension without pay of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas school resource officer after Israel said video shows him taking up a defensive position during the shooting but never entering the school.
Israel announced Thursday that the decision to suspend Deputy Scot Peterson was made after reviewing video from the shooting and taking statements from witnesses and Peterson himself, Israel said.
On Friday, Israel said, “In the video I saw of Peterson, which caused me to go in the direction I went, I don’t believe you even see a deputy in that part of the picture at all.”
Peterson was armed and on campus during the shooting, Israel said. Since he met the requirements for retirement, Peterson opted to resign after he was told he was being suspended, Israel said.