FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel over his department's response to the Parkland massacre and named a veteran police sergeant as his successor.
- Gov. Ron DeSantis suspends Broward Sheriff Scott Israel
- Israel has faced criticism over his deputies' response to Parkland massacre
- Greg Tony named as successor, would be Broward's 1st black sheriff
- READ IT: DeSantis' executive order suspending Israel (PDF)
The suspension was made with an executive order filed Friday afternoon by the governor.
"The (Parkland) massacre might never have happened had Broward had better leadership in the sheriff's department," DeSantis said at a news conference in Fort Lauderdale.
"The parkland families and the people of Broward and the broader Florida community want accountability, but I think just as important, or more important, they want the problems fixed going forward," he said.
Israel had been under fire for his deputies' performance during the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Former Coral Springs Police Sgt. Greg Tony was named as Israel's replacement. He would become Broward County's first black sheriff.
"I believe is the way to look forward, to bring leadership, competence and accountability to the department," DeSantis said.
Israel will have a chance to plead his case to the Florida Senate.
The news conference originally had been scheduled for 2 p.m. ET, but DeSantis' plane was rerouted to the Tampa Bay area for mechanical trouble, so it has been pushed back.
Israel rejects DeSantis' statements
In a news conference scheduled for right after DeSantis', Israel and his lawyer said they strongly disagreed with DeSantis' move and asked why similar action wasn't taken during other mass shootings.
"Let me be clear: I wholeheartedly reject the statements in the governor's executive order as lacking both legal merit and a valid factual basis. There was no wrongdoing on my part," Israel said.
"No one was suspended after the Pulse shooting, no one was suspended after the 2013 mass shooting at an apartment complex in Miami-Dade County, no one was suspended in 2017 after the mass shooting at an Orlando factory," he said. "The difference? I spoke out about gun violence."
Israel's lawyer said there is only one person responsible for the Parkland massacre: Nikolas Cruz.
Israel said he intends to fight the suspension in court and with the Florida Senate.