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Ranking Homeland Security Democrat rebukes FBI over Florida shooting

Ranking Homeland Security Democrat rebukes FBI over Florida shooting
© Greg Nash

The ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee issued a statement criticizing the FBI on Friday after the bureau admitted it failed to follow standard "protocol" when it received a tip earlier this year about the suspect accused of killing 17 at a Florida high school on Wednesday.

Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHillicon Valley: Russia-linked hackers hit Eastern European companies | Twitter shares data on influence campaigns | Dems blast Trump over China interference claims | Saudi crisis tests Silicon Valley | Apple to let customers download their data Dems blast Trump for 'conflating' Chinese, Russian election interference claims Dems eye ambitious agenda if House flips MORE (D-Miss.) called for oversight on the FBI's information-sharing systems in a statement calling the agency's failure to act on a tip from a public hotline tragic.

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“Today, we learned the FBI received a report of Nikolas Cruz’s disturbing behavior and desire to harm others prior to the Parkland, Florida school shooting. Tragically, proper protocols were not followed and the information was never acted upon," Thompson wrote in the statement.

"As we continue to mourn the lives lost, FBI and other law enforcement agencies should remain steadfast in advancing a thorough investigation—including any and all of the shooter’s connections and background information," he added.

The Mississippi Democrat went on to call for a congressional investigation of the FBI's tip-sharing practices as well as legislation regulating the sale of assault rifles like the AR-15 rifle allegedly used in the Parkland, Fla., attack, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, and other mass shootings that have occurred in the past few years.

"Congress must act urgently to prevent future attacks by not only investigating FBI’s information sharing apparatus, but also by developing sensible legislation to keep assault rifles out of the hands of those who seek to do harm," Thompson said. 

The FBI faced bipartisan criticism Friday after the agency's admission to not following a tip about Cruz, the 19-year-old former student accused in the Parkland shooting.

"Under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life," the FBI said in a statement.

Some of the harshest criticism directed at the bureau came from Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), who called on FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign over the matter.

“The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable," said Scott in a statement. "The FBI Director needs to resign."