Chuck Grassley isn’t letting Scott Israel off the hook.
The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman excoriated the Broward County, Fla. sheriff for failing to attend a Wednesday hearing on Capitol Hill regarding last month’s school shooting at a Parkland high school, accusing the lawman of having “let the American people down.”
“The committee also invited Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel to testify,” the Iowa Republican said in his opening remarks. “He declined.”
Grassley contrasted Israel’s absence with his frequent media appearances, notably at a pro-gun control town hall hosted by CNN days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“I’ve seen that sheriff all over television discussing the shooting, so it’s disappointing that he has refused to speak to the country through his testimony before this committee.”
The senator also reproved Michael Carroll, Secretary of Florida’s Department of School and Families, for choosing not to attend.
“His department investigated and interviewed the shooter before the attack and then appears to have dropped the ball,” Grassley said of Carroll. “He, too, has refused to appear even though Governor Scott didn’t oppose his attendance.”
The lawmaker blasted both men.
“By thumbing their noses at Congress, Sheriff Israel and Secretary Carroll have let the American people down and also the citizens of Florida that they serve.”
During the hearing, law enforcement officials admitted to mistakes their agencies made leading up to the massacre, CBS News reports.
Acting FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich recognized that the Bureau did not follow up on tips indicating that shooter Nikolas Cruz was planning a deadly attack, but doubted a more assertive intervention would have prevented the tragedy.
“As I wanted to be fully transparent on — we made mistakes here. No question about that,” Bowdich said. “With that said, even if we had done everything right, I am not sure we could have stopped this act.”
Sheriff Israel has faced criticism over several issues, including reports that his deputies visited Cruz’s home various times over the years for domestic disturbances without taking steps that might have blocked his access to firearms.
Israel was pressured to resign after it was reported that four of his deputies stood outside the school during the shooting rather than enter and engage the killer. The deputies allegedly were ordered to do so because they were not wearing body cameras.
Israel has brushed off calls for his resignation, and said his deputies’ failure to enter the school is “not my responsibility.”