The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday admitted that it had failed to act on a tip warning that Nikolas Cruz, the man accused of killing 17 people at a high school in Florida, possessed a gun and spoke of his desire to kill.
“On January 5, 2018, a person close to Nikolas Cruz contacted the FBI’s Public Access Line tipline to report concerns about him,” the agency said in a statement. “The caller provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behaviour and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”
The agency said that as per the established protocols, the information should have been forwarded to the FBI’s field office in Miami, which then would have then investigated Cruz. However, these protocols were not followed.
Apart from the call to the tipline, Ben Bennight, a resident of Mississippi, reported to the agency a disturbing comment that Cruz purportedly left on a YouTube video, BBC reported. “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” a user called “nikolas cruz” had written. The agency contacted Bennight following the shooting and spoke to him for about 20 minutes. The FBI had confirmed on Thursday that they were aware of the comment at the time.
“We have spoken with victims and families, and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy,” 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.”
The agency’s admission received an angry response in Florida, with Governor Rick Scott calling on Wray to step down over this blunder, Reuters reported. “The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable.”
A family friend of 18-year-old Meadow Pollack, who was killed in the massacre, was aghast at the FBI’s failure. “The FBI apologised? Tell that to families,” 53-year-old Jeff Richman said.