Florida is launching an investigation of the law enforcement response to the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 students and staff, the Governor’s Office said Sunday.
The probe comes at the request of Gov. Rick Scott after the Broward County sheriff said video shows at least one deputy taking up a defensive position outside the building at the Parkland, Florida, school where the massacre occurred, but never going in to engage the gunman.
Scott’s announcement was made shortly after the governor met with Rick Swearingen, commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It also came on the same day Republican lawmakers wrote the governor a letter asking him to suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, a Democrat, alleging, “incompetence and neglect of duty.”
Swearingen’s agency said it will “immediately” begin the investigation at the governor’s request.
Sheriff Israel released a statement this afternoon saying his department “welcomes” the investigation and will “fully cooperate.”
“This independent outside review will ensure public confidence in the findings,” Israel said in the statement.
For the first time since the Feb. 14 massacre, thousands of Stoneman Douglas students and their parents were allowed back on the campus Sunday for an orientation with teachers, administrators and social service counselors. Classes at the school are scheduled to resume Wednesday.
Israel told ABC News last week that his office has already launched an internal investigation into reports that, besides the deputy seen on video, at least three other Broward County sheriff’s deputies remained outside the school building during the rampage rather than entering the school.
Coral Springs Police Department officers were reportedly shocked to arrive at the shooting scene and see the Broward deputies still outside, with their pistols drawn and behind their vehicles, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported, citing an unnamed source from the Coral Springs Police Department.
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SOURCE: ABC News, Bill Hutchinson and Joshua Hoyos