Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) blasted a pair of Florida officials on Wednesday for refusing to appear before the committee for its hearing on school safety and gun control measures.
The panel had called on Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and Michael Carroll, the secretary of Florida’s Department of Children and Families, to appear for the hearing held following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., last month.
“By thumbing their noses at Congress, Sheriff Israel and Secretary Carroll have let the American people down and also the citizens of Florida they serve,” Grassley said.
“As we will discuss during the hearing, the Broward County Sheriff and Department of Children and Families are integral to the Parkland fact pattern.”
Grassley said it was disappointing Israel refused to speak before Congress, given the sheriff’s appearance on television in the weeks after the Feb. 14 shooting to discuss the tragedy.
Carroll, whose department investigated and interviewed the suspected gunman before the attack, was also invited but refused to appear, according to Grassley.
Wednesday’s hearing marked one month since a gunman killed 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Lawmakers are currently weighing a range of proposals in response to the shooting.
During the hearing, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the Parkland tragedy was the result of a systemic failure of government agencies at the federal, state and local levels, and because of vulnerabilities in existing law.
“The school system knew he was dangerous, local law enforcement knew he was dangerous, the FBI was told directly that he was dangerous, someone close to the shooter called and said they feared he would carry out a school shooting to both the sheriff’s office and the FBI. He used social media platforms,” Rubio said of the shooter.
“On one occasion he even declared he was going to become a professional school shooter and yet somehow not only did he buy multiple guns, he stepped foot in that school and shattered a community. He didn’t slip through one crack, he slipped through every crack.”
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) also testified, while the panel was slated to hear from Thomas Brandon, deputy director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Acting Deputy FBI Director David Bowdich; Lina Alathari, chief of the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center; and parents and a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.