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Benjamin Kelly: Aide's Shooting 'Actors' Claims Get Him Fired by Legislator

Image: Benjamin Kelly: Aide's Shooting 'Actors' Claims Get Him Fired by Legislator
Students Kelsey Friend and David Hogg recount their stories about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 22 February 2018 09:51 AM

Benjamin Kelly, an aide to Florida State Rep. Shawn Harrison, was fired after claiming students who appeared on TV criticizing lawmakers on gun control were actually crisis actors and not pupils at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Kelly, Harrison's district secretary, told the Tampa Bay Times in an email that some of the interviewed students were actors who travel to various crisis locations when an incident happens.

The Times said Kelly was referring to a picture attached to the newspaper's story posted online hours earlier about how Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students were outspoken about the attacks. The photo showed students David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez speaking on CNN.

Kelly referred the Times to a YouTube video he said Hogg had posted about a confrontation with a lifeguard that he said was from California, telling the Times "… I guess he transferred."

But Broward County Schools superintendent Robert Runcie vouched for both students personally to the Times.

"These are absolutely students at Stoneman Douglas," Runcie said. "They've been there. I can verify that."

Runcie called Kelly's comments "outrageous and disrespectful" and "part of what's wrong with the narrative in this country," per the Times.

Harrison issued tweets calling Kelly's comments "insensitive and inappropriate" and that he was terminated from his position, USA Today reported.

USA Today reported that Kelly posted two apologies on Twitter, which have been taken down.

"I meant no disrespect to the students or parents of Parkland," Kelly said on Twitter, per USA Today. "Rep. Shawn Harrison is an honest and respectable man. In no way should he be held responsible for my error in judgement."

"I’ve been terminated from the State House. I 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,” he said in a second now-deleted tweet, per USA Today.

Seventeen students were killed and more than a dozen injured in a Valentine's Day shooting at the Florida high school, noted the Times. Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been accused in the shooting and is being held in the Broward County Jail.

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Benjamin Kelly, an aide to Florida State Rep. Shawn Harrison, was fired after claiming that students who appeared on television criticizing lawmakers on gun control were actually crisis actors and not pupils at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
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Thursday, 22 February 2018 09:51 AM
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