FBI failed to investigate January tip about Parkland school shooting suspect

Nikolas Cruz faces 17 counts of premeditated murder after mass shooting

By Associated Press, Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

PARKLAND, Fla. - The FBI said it failed to investigate a specific report in January that Nikolas Cruz could be plotting a school shooting.

Cruz faces charges of killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland earlier this week.

A tipster who was close to Cruz called the FBI on Jan. 5 and provided information about Cruz's guns, desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts. The FBI said the caller expressed concerns Cruz could attack a school.

Robert Lasky, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Miami field office, said agents in the Miami field office were never notified about the tip.

"The FBI has determined that protocol was not followed. The information was not provided to the Miami field office and no further investigation was conducted at that time," Lasky said. "We will conduct an in-depth review of our internal procedures for responding to information that is provided by the public."

The FBI was also notified about a comment on a YouTube video posted by a "Nikolas Cruz" last year. 

"The comment simply said, 'I'm going to be a professional school shooter,'" Lasky said Thursday during a news conference. "No other information was included with that comment, which would indicate a time, location or true identity of the person who made that comment."

Lasky said the FBI was unable to identify who made the remark.

A statement released Friday by the FBI said that the most recent tip should've been investigated thoroughly and forwarded to the Miami field office because it was a potential threat to life.

"We are still investigating the facts," FBI Director Christopher Wray said. "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."

Cruz, 19, was arrested after he confessed to "shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on the school grounds" Wednesday, according to a probable cause affidavit.

He is being held without bond on 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Nikolas Cruz fired into five classrooms. 

The sheriff said Cruz, who was a former student at the school, used an AR-15 rifle in the shooting and was equipped with multiple magazines.

According to the affidavit, Cruz purchased the rifle in February 2017.

Israel said Cruz was dropped off at the school by the Uber driver at 2:19 p.m. The sheriff said Cruz entered an east stairwell in building 12 and began shooting into classrooms. One person was also shot on a stairwell, Israel said.

The sheriff said Cruz crossed a field and ran with other students who were fleeing the school, blending into the crowd. 

Cruz walked to a nearby Walmart where he got a drink at Subway and then went to a McDonald's, where he sat down for a short time, Israel said.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was booked into jail.

The sheriff said Cruz was taken into custody at 3:41 p.m. in the Wyndam Lakes neighborhood by a Coconut Creek police officer.

According to the affidavit, Cruz hid the additional loaded magazines in a backpack until he got on campus to begin the assault.

"He's a broken human being," defense attorney Melisa McNeil told reporters Thursday. "He's a broken child."

McNeil said Cruz's mother recently died and he fell through the cracks.

She said she feels horrible for the families broken by the shooting.

"Mr. Cruz feels that pain," she said.

More than a dozen other people were taken to area hospitals after the shooting. Seven patients remained hospitalized Friday.

The shooting is the 18th at a school in the U.S. so far in 2018.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., met with officials Friday at the school and spoke to reporters after about what Congress can do to enact change.

"Maybe this will be the turning point," Nelson said. "Maybe the students speaking out so boldly as they have on national TV, maybe the parents crying out and speaking so boldly as they have, that maybe this will be the turning point because, in fact, enough is enough."

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has remained closed since the shooting, but students and faculty were allowed back on campus Friday to pick up their vehicles.

"We have spoken with victims and families and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy," Wray said. "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."

That's not good enough for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who called for Wray's resignation Friday.

Scott called the FBI's failure to take action "unacceptable."

"Seventeen innocent people are dead and acknowledging a mistake isn't going to cut it," Scott said.

The governor said the FBI failed the families of the victims.

"We constantly promote 'see something, say something,' and a courageous person did just that to the FBI," Scott said. "And the FBI failed to act."

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