A Florida district secretary who accused two survivors of the Parkland school shooting of being crisis actors has been fired.
GOP Rep. Shawn Harrison tweeted on Tuesday that his aide, Benjamin Kelly, had been let go following the disparaging comments about students who escaped last week’s massacre alive.
‘Tonight Mr Kelly was terminated from his position as my District Secretary. I am appalled at and strongly denounce his comments about the Parkland students,’ he wrote. ‘I am again sorry for any pain this has caused the grieving families of this tragedy.
Earlier Tuesday, Harrison said he did not share the same opinion as Kelly.
‘I was just made aware that my aide made an insensitive and inappropriate allegation about Parkland students today. … I do not share his opinion and he did so without my knowledge,’ the tweet read.
The 61-year-old Republican aide came under fire for telling a Tampa Bay Times reporter that two Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students – Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg – were ‘actors’ who ‘travel to various crisis when they happen’.
‘Both kids in the picture are not students,’ Kelly said in an email, referencing a screenshot of Gonzalez and Hogg doing an interview with CNN about stricter gun laws after former Marjory Stoneman student 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire killing 17 people.
To back his absurd claims, Kelly linked to a YouTube video of Hogg in a news clip from California over a dispute with a lifeguard about a boogie board. Many people commented on the video wondering why Hogg was in California labeling him as a ‘crisis actor’.
‘There is a clip on you tube that shows Mr Hogg out in California (I guess he transferred?), Kelly wrote in the email.
Following backlash from his comment, Kelly took to Twitter to say he ‘made a mistake whereas I tried to inform a reporter of information relating to his story regarding a school shooting. This was not my responsibility. I meant no disrespect to the students or parents of Parkland.’