Scott Israel, who was serving as Broward County sheriff at the time of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has been permanently removed from office.
Israel, who had been suspended by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in January, had that removal made permanent Wednesday after the state Senate voted 25-15 to remove him from office, Fox News reported.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Florida’s state Senate has the power “to either remove or reinstate an official suspended by the governor.”
“I hope the outcome provides some measure of relief to the Parkland families that have been doggedly pursuing accountability,” DeSantis said in a statement after the vote.
“Your vote has been stolen and the results of our 2016 election have been overturned,” he said. “From 450 miles away, the governor substituted his judgment for yours and installed his own sheriff in Broward County.”
He also said he plans to run for the post again in 2020, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
The five senators representing Broward County voted to keep Israel in office, which bothered many people who lost friends and family members in the shooting.
“I wanted truth, justice and accountability, and today we received some accountability,” Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter, Alyssa, was killed in the shooting, said Wednesday. “It was important for me to be here today because I wanted to look into the senators’ eyes, hear what senators voted yes and no, to see it for myself.”
She said seeing Broward senators vote to keep Israel in office “was very difficult to watch. They cried with us. They might even have seen my child dead, and so it was very difficult, and I know the Broward County voters are watching.”
Others invoked the memories of those lost in the shooting.
“The senseless murder of so many, including my 14-year-old daughter, Alaina, tests the limits of faith and demands more endurance than I thought possible,” said Ryan Petty, who called the tragedy “arguably the most preventable school shooting in history.”
“Every relevant authority knew he was a deeply troubled youth with a potential for lethal violence,” he said at a hearing Monday.
Anthony Borges, a former student at the school who was shot five times, spoke for a friend who could not.
“I’m here to represent my friend, Martin Duque, who is not with us anymore as a result of this massacre,” he said.
“The governor did the right thing. Please respect the decision.”
Democratic state Sen. Perry Thurston, who represents part of Broward County and voted to keep Israel in office, said the vote was difficult.
“I can stand here and I can tell you how I empathize with the Parkland parents,” Thurston said. “I’m not disregarding them. None of us would.”
“If I was a parent I would want vengeance too,” he said in an earlier Democratic caucus.
Thurston portrayed the removal as engineered by outsiders, saying that “95 percent of Broward County feels differently about the attempt to remove the sheriff.”
“I’m happy for all the families, because no matter where they fell on the political side of things, they were all united in making sure this guy goes,” she said.
“I think Scott Israel is a thug. I think he’s a coward,” Loesch added.
“If I was doing his job, I would have done a heck of a lot better than that man — that sad excuse for a man — would have done. But I am glad that these families were victorious.”
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