Florida Sheriff Calls Out Politicians During Candlelight Vigil For Victims of School Shooting


At a candlelit vigil for the victims of the Florida high school shooting, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel called on lawmakers to push for new gun laws or they “will not be re-elected.”

Locals gathered Thursday night to grieve the 17 victims of Wednesday’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida.

“If you’re an elected official, and you want to keep things the way they are, and not do things differently, if you want to keep the gun laws as they are now, you will not get re-elected in Broward County,” Israel said, according to Fox News.

About 1,000 people attended the vigil in Parkland, Florida to mourn, some wore the high school’s color, red, and others carried signs asking for action to stop school violence, The Associated Press reported.

The vigil began with a moment of silence as the names of the victims were read out loud.

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Fred Guttenberg spoke to the crowd as well and described his last interaction with his daughter, Jamie, who was one of the 17 victims, according to Fox News.

“I don’t always get to say I love you,” he said of the family’s busy morning routine. “I don’t remember if I said that to Jamie yesterday morning.”

He added, “Parents, love your kids, hold your kids, kiss your kids, and don’t ever, ever miss the chance to tell them how much you love them.”

Nikolas Cruz, 19, allegedly opened fire with an AR-15 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, killing at least 17 people. Cruz was charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

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Israel reportedly told reporters Thursday that anyone who is being treated for mental illness should not be allowed to purchase firearms.

“Certainly more money should go to mental health. I’ve said this time and time again. If you tear a knee up, you go to an orthopedic surgeon. If we have mental health issues, we need to be treated,” he said. “But while people who are the victim of mental health illnesses in this country are being treated, in the opinion of this sheriff, they should not be able to buy, surround themselves, purchase, or carry a handgun. Those two things don’t mix.”

Many of Cruz’s classmates and neighbors did not seem surprised at his actions, pointing to his interactions with animals and what he posted on social media as evidence of his mental health issues, the U.K. Daily Mail reported.

Malcolm Roxburgh, one of his neighbors, said that Cruz seemed to target the family across the street who had pigs.

‘He didn’t like the pigs and didn’t like the neighbors, so he sent over his dog over there to try to attack them,” Roxburgh said, according to the Daily Mail.

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One of his former classmates said that Cruz’s mental health issues were “ignored by all the adults.”

“He literally had an Instagram where he posted pictures of animals he killed gruesomely and he physically assaulted one of my friends once,” the student said.

Israel asked politicians to do “what is in the best interest of our children,” when he appeared on MSNBC Thursday night, according to Fox News.

“I’ve spent a lifetime in law enforcement protecting peoples’ rights, but at the end of the day the rights of our children must be first and foremost,” he said. “And lawmakers gotta change the way they do things. The same ol’, same ol’ just ain’t working.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith