Two more Broward County deputies fired for neglect during Parkland school shooting

Edward Eason and Josh Stambaugh were fired following an internal affairs investigation into the department's response to the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting that left 17 people dead.
Image: People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people
People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after the shooting that killed and injured multiple people on Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Florida.Joe Raedle / Getty Images file

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By Elisha Fieldstadt and Associated Press

Two more deputies have been fired for alleged inaction during the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead, the Broward County sheriff said Wednesday.

Sheriff Gregory Tony said Edward Eason and Josh Stambaugh were fired Tuesday following an internal affairs investigation into the department's response to the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting.

"In essence, it was neglect of duty. We lost 17 people," Tony said during a brief news conference Wednesday. He did not provide more details, but said a report would at some point be released to the public.

A public safety commission that investigated the shooting said last year that body camera footage showed Eason did not immediately enter the building, contrary to the deputy's report. The commission revealed that former student Nikolas Cruz had already killed the 17 and wounded 17 others by the time Eason arrived, but some people inside needed immediate help.

"Deputy Edward Eason could have stopped the Parkland shooter TWICE and did NOTHING," Andrew Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack, a student who died in the attack, wrote on Twitter in December. "During the shooting, he was one of 8 deputies hiding outside as kids died."

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A state commission found that Stambaugh did not move toward the school, despite hearing the final gunshots.

Two other deputies have already been fired for neglect of duty during the shooting, including Scot Peterson, who was arrested earlier this month on charges of child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury. He was the only person at the school with a firearm when the gunman opened fire.

Peterson's lawyer said he will fight the charges. He said in a June 2018 interview on NBC's "Today" show that he didn't go into the building because of a miscommunication.

"I didn't get it right," he said. "But it wasn't because of some, 'Oh, I don't want to go into that building. Oh, I don't want to face somebody in there.' It wasn't like that at all."

Scott Israel, the sheriff at the time of the shooting, was also removed from office by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Jeff Bell, president of the Broward Sheriff's Office Deputies Association, has said Israel changed the wording in the department's active-shooter policy to say that deputies "may," rather than "shall," proceed into an active-shooter scene. Bell said the new language gave deputies the license to stay outside.

Israel is appealing the decision in front of the state Senate.

No action will be taken against three other deputies who were investigated after the shooting, Tony said.

Cruz has pleaded not guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder, but his public defenders said he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. Prosecutors want the death penalty and have rejected that offer.