FBI failed to follow protocol on tip about accused high school shooter
The FBI said Friday that it failed to follow “protocols” when it received a tip earlier this year about the teenager accused of killing 17 in a mass shooting at a South Florida high school.
In January, person close to the accused shooter, 19-year old Nikolas Cruz, called the FBI’s public tipline and raised concerns about his gun ownership, desire to kill and warned of a possible school shooting.
But the FBI never reported the tip to its Miami field office or investigated the claim, the bureau said Friday.
“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. “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 [Public Access Line] on January 5. The information was not provided to the Miami field office, and no further investigation was conducted at that time.”
Authorities say Cruz opened fire in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., about 25 miles north of Fort Lauderdale, on Wednesday, killing 17 people and injuring 14 others.
Cruz, a former student at the school who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons, was charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
In the hours after the attack, former classmates painted a picture of Cruz as a disturbed individual obsessed with guns.
The FBI said Friday that the tip in January “should have been assessed as a potential threat to life.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement added that the bureau was working to get to the bottom of the lapse. He said the FBI regrets “the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy.”
“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,” he said.
Robert Lasky, the special agent in charge at the FBI’s Miami field office, said Thursday that the agency was directed to a comment on YouTube in September 2017. The comment was posted by someone with a username matching Cruz’s name. It read: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”
Lasky said that comment was reported to the FBI’s office in Jackson, Miss., by someone who lived in Mississippi and had no ties to South Florida or the user who posted the comment. He said that FBI division was unable to confirm the user’s identity.
This story was updated at 1:23 p.m.