With a 25-15 vote on Wednesday, the Republican-dominated Florida Senate backed the suspension of a county sheriff who the state’s Republican governor said bungled the response to last year’s mass shooting in Parkland that killed 17 people.
The Senate’s Rules Committee just two days earlier had sided with the decision of Gov. Ron DeSantis to oust Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa died in the shooting, watched from the Senate gallery, and the vote is helping her achieve closure.
“There is finally accountability for the many failures. His incompetency as sheriff led to the death of my daughter Alyssa and 16 others,” she told The Associated Press.
On Feb. 14, 2018, a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and killed 15 students and two staffers. A former student, Nikolas Cruz, was arrested shortly after the shootings and faces 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder.
The vote was nonpartisan. Three Democrats voted for removal, while one Republican sided with the now-former sheriff.
Israel, who was first elected as Broward County sheriff in 2012, has vowed to run for his old job in next year’s election. DeSantis has said he would not seek to remove Israel again, should the lawman win the confidence of Broward voters.
“It’s not going to be something that will matter to me either way,” DeSantis said Tuesday.
During his bid for governor, DeSantis partly campaigned on removing Israel from his post in Broward County, a Democratic stronghold. Days after taking office, DeSantis used his authority as the governor to remove the lawman after deeming him incompetent in his department’s Parkland response.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.