With all the glaring red flags in the life of the shooting suspect in last week’s deadly Florida high school massacre, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch confronted law enforcement with an obvious question.
During a CNN Town Hall meeting in Florida on Wednesday, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel addressed the question that his office may have failed to properly evaluate and act on the case of the 19-year-old suspect with a history of behavior issues, who opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland last week, killing 17 people.
“In Florida, we call it a Baker Act. It allows us to take an individual to be, against their will, involuntarily, to go to a mental health facility and be treated,” Israel said in response to a question from an audience member citing the FBI’s acknowledgment that it failed to act on tips about the shooter.
Israel called for law enforcement to be given more authority to take action with the mentally ill against their will after deeming an individual needs psychological attention.
Loesch then fired the question on everyone’s minds.
“Thirty-nine visits did not meet that standard? 39 visits, assaulting students, assaulting parents, taking bullets and knives to school did not meet that standard?” she asked, referring to the record of alleged incidents by the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, before the high school shooting and the visits authorities made to his home in response.
The sheriff defensively asked what Loesch was speaking of specifically, to which she responded with the example of threatening messages the shooter had sent classmates.
“They were threatened with death. They were threatened that they were going to bleed. They were threatened that they were going to be killed,” Loesch told Israel.
“He had already taken bullets and knifes to school. He had already assaulted people. He had assaulted his parent. He had assaulted other students. 39 visits,” she went on. “And this was known to the intelligence and law enforcement community.”
Israel began to push back as Loesch continued her attack, acknowledging that she understood law enforcement officials can “be everywhere at once,” but pressed again why red flags were not followed up.
“You’re absolutely not the litmus test for how law enforcement should follow up,” the sheriff fired back as the audience protested.
“You’re wrong,” he also noted, arguing there were not 39 actual visits made and Loesch should get her facts straight.
Broward County Sheriff Steve Israel was nominated as a member of Hillary Clinton’s Florida Leadership Council during the 2016 presidential campaign. Prior to CNN’s town hall, Israel said that lawmakers “won’t get re-elected” if they don’t support gun control.
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