Two more Broward County Sheriff’s deputies were fired for “neglect of duty” in their response to last year’s massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Sheriff Gregory Tony announced Wednesday.
Deputies Edward Eason and Josh Stambaugh were terminated following an internal affairs investigation into seven officers who responded to the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting in Parkland. Two other officers, Deputy Scot Peterson and Sgt. Brian Miller were fired earlier this month. Accusations against three other deputies involved in the internal affairs probe were “non-sustained” and they will return to duty, Tony said.
“This was neglect of duty, and it was one of the most severe consequences as we lost 17 people,” Tony said of the fired officers.
Stambaugh failed to run toward gunshots on multiple occasions to stop the shooter, according to the report. “Stambaugh appeared to take cover over assisting deputies entering a possible hot zone,” it said based on videos from his body camera. At one point, Stambaugh told an officer from the Coral Springs Police Department nearing MSD’s building 12 — where the shots were being fired — to “watch yourself” as he remained behind cover.
In Eason’s case, the report reveals he provided inconsistent and conflicting statements to investigators. It also shows that instead of responding to the gunshots at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, he went to nearby Westglades Middle to lock it down. Eason, however, “never transmitted his actions,” and took 19 minutes to check the doors of the middle school to see if it was locked down.
Eason was also faulted for not writing an official report after receiving a tip in February 2016 that the shooting suspect, Nikolas Cruz, was making threats on social media to shoot up a school. Tips to the FBI about Cruz also were not followed up, a separate investigation has found.
Peterson, the school’s resource officer the day of the shooting, has been arrested and charged with eleven criminal counts child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury
A full 124-page internal affairs report released later Wednesday, first obtained by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, detailed the case against the fired officers.
The report alleged the officers being investigated neglected their duty by failing to, “take timely action on the occasion of a crime when gunshots were heard in Building 12 or attempt to locate and confront the active shooter or determine the source of the gunshots.”
Scott Israel, the sheriff at the time, was removed from office by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for similar reasons. He is appealing that decision before the state Senate.
Cruz, 20, faces the death penalty if convicted in the shootings. His lawyers have said he will plead guilty in return for a life prison sentence but prosecutors have rejected that offer.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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