The FBI admitted Friday that it received a detailed tip about accused Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz in January, but failed to follow up and investigate.
Within hours of the revelation, Florida Gov. Rick Scott demanded FBI Director Christopher Wray’s resignation – despite Wray offering an apology to the family of victims.
“Seventeen innocent people are dead and acknowledging a mistake isn’t going to cut it. An apology will never bring these 17 Floridians back to life or comfort the families who are in pain. The families will spend a lifetime wondering how this could happen, and an apology will never give them the answers they desperately need,” Scott said in a release.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio voiced similar comments, asking the House and Senate to launch investigations into FBI protocols.
“Lawmakers and law enforcement personnel constantly remind the public that ‘if you see something, say something.’ In this tragic case, people close to the shooter said something, and our system utterly failed the families of seventeen innocent souls,” Rubio said in a statement.
In a statement, the FBI said that a person close to Cruz, who has allegedly confessed to killing 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., called the FBI tip line with concerns on Jan. 5. The caller gave the FBI information on Cruz’s “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”
That information should have been forwarded to the FBI’s Miami field office for agents to investigate, but it was not.
“We have determined that these protocols were not followed,” a statement from the FBI read.
The FBI statement also included an apology to victims of the shooting from Wray.
“We have spoken with victims and families, and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy,” he wrote.
FBI Special Agent Rob Lasky confirmed on Thursday that the organization also received a tip about five months ago on a YouTube comment from someone with the username “nikolas cruz” that read, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” Lasky said the FBI was not able to identify who made the comment.
Read the full FBI statement below:
On January 5, 2018, a person close to Nikolas Cruz contacted the FBI’s Public Access Line (PAL) tipline to report concerns about him. The caller provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.
Under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life. The information then should have been forwarded to the FBI Miami Field Office, where appropriate investigative steps would have been taken.
We have determined that these protocols were not followed for the information received by the PAL on January 5. The information was not provided to the Miami Field Office, and no further investigation was conducted at that time.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said:
“We are still investigating the facts. I am committed to getting to the bottom of what happened in this particular matter, as well as reviewing our processes for responding to information that we receive from the public. It’s up to all Americans to be vigilant, and when members of the public contact us with concerns, we must act properly and quickly.
“We have spoken with victims and families, and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy. All of the men and women of the FBI are dedicated to keeping the American people safe, and are relentlessly committed to improving all that we do and how we do it.”
Read Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s full statement:
Today, Governor Rick Scott made the following statement regarding the FBI’s admission that they failed to take action after receiving information on January 5, 2018, regarding “[Nikolas] Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”
Governor Scott said, “The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable. The FBI has admitted that they were contacted last month by a person who called to inform them of Cruz’s ‘desire to kill people,’ and ‘the potential of him conducting a school shooting.’
“Seventeen innocent people are dead and acknowledging a mistake isn’t going to cut it. An apology will never bring these 17 Floridians back to life or comfort the families who are in pain. The families will spend a lifetime wondering how this could happen, and an apology will never give them the answers they desperately need.
“We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act. ‘See something, say something’ is an incredibly important tool and people must have confidence in the follow through from law enforcement. The FBI Director needs to resign.”
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