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FBI Failed to Act on Tip about Suspected Florida School Shooter

by Countable | 2.16.18

What’s the story?

A month before the mass shooting at a Florida high school, the FBI received a tip about the suspected gunman and his "desire to kill people"—but investigators failed to act on it.

Why does it matter?

In a statement released on Friday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said:

"On January 5, 2018, a person close to [suspected shooter] 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 bureau protocols, the caller’s information "should have been assessed as a potential threat to life" and forwarded to the Miami Field Office.

"We have determined these protocols were not followed," the FBI said.

"We are still investigating the facts," Christopher Wray, the FBI director, said in the statement. “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.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) lambasted the FBI and called on Wray to resign:

"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."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered his deputy AG to review the FBI’s handling of this case.

What do you think?

Should Wray resign? Should Congress launch their own investigation? Should the FBI have a better system for handling tips? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

Related Reading

(Photo Credit: Politico via Twitter)

Countable

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(104)
  • John
    02/16/2018
    ···

    The FBI should have investigated the tip they got. And yes, there needs to be an investigation into the reporting process and improve it. But no, Wray doesn’t need to resign. And the FLA. governor and senators need to admit that their actions and inactions on gun control bills are also responsible for this massacre. But let’s not be diverted from the real problem: the easy access to assault weapons and large magazines. The NRA and 45 and the GOP want people to forget that fact. Assault weapons, GUNS, are the choice of mass shooters. Remember that when you question your legislators. Remember that when the NRA lies. Remember and vote like somebody’s life depends on it. Because it does!

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  • Dara
    02/16/2018
    ···

    Thank you Director Wray for your honesty and forthrightness. You are right, we need to investigate why protocols weren’t followed and make changes. That is what professionals do when a system has encountered a breakdown. Now as for Governor Rick Scott calling for a resignation, that’s like the kettle calling the skillet black. The problem in Florida and the rest of the country are the NRA and gun lobbying in addition to allowing assault riffles on the streets. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and every member of congress that takes one penny from gun lobbying are complicit in this heinous crime. They have allowed these weapons to be put in the hands of unqualified people. Shame, shame, shame on them. These weapons should never be sold to the public. Pass gun control now.

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  • Luke
    02/16/2018
    ···

    And what would’ve happened had they investigated him? A file would’ve been opened, a watch would’ve gone out, warnings, maybe less would’ve died, maybe not. It’s the same way a security camera doesn’t prevent crime, it deters crime on the fear of being caught. This shooter didn’t care about being caught obviously, and I don’t think the FBI following up on a tip like that would’ve done much. This is all in the realm of theoretics now, coulda shoulda woulda, to put it plainly. We have to focus not on what should have been done but what we CAN do now to prevent this from happening again. The call for the FBI resignation is absurd as well and is only an attempt to scapegoat away from the gun control debate. Don’t stop fighting, mass shootings can’t happen if shooters don’t have guns capable of killing that quickly. Assault rifles have no place among the general public.

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  • Eric
    02/17/2018
    ···

    STOP BEING DISTRACTED!!! The shooter was doing nothing that was illegal. The FBI could have done nothing!!! The police had been to the home several times. It did not matter! The issue is access to guns in a culture that teaches and preaches that guns are problem solving tools! Listen to the GOP saying that we need more guns to solve the problem! The GOP had better wake up. The senior class of 2018 will be voting next year. They will remember the GOP's stupid distractions towards the FBI and mental illness. They will remember the inaction of the GOP. They will remember that the GOP sold out their safety to the NRA. Each year, a new wave of graduates will attain voting age and will eventually turn the GOP into a relic of the past; an embarrassment of our history. Start the wave now! Vote out anyone who accepts NRA money, and tries to distract from the problem of the gun culture of America.

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  • Clint
    02/16/2018
    ···

    In 1996, the Republican-majority Congress threatened to strip funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unless it stopped funding research into firearm injuries and deaths. The National Rifle Association accused the CDC of promoting gun control. As a result, the CDC stopped funding gun-control research — which had a chilling effect far beyond the agency, drying up money for almost all public health studies of the issue nationwide. https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/wonk/wp/2017/10/04/gun-violence-research-has-been-shut-down-for-20-years/

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  • Jess
    02/16/2018
    ···

    As a teacher myself, the reality is finally setting in that the time may come where I take a bullet for my students and the other children around me. We are not okay with people being targeted in airplanes, we are not okay with people being targeted in bus or train stations, we are not okay with people being targeted in central business locations, we CANNOT be okay with people being targeted in schools.

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  • Sheryl
    02/17/2018
    ···

    Can you imagine if the FBI had the ability to detain someone just because they ‘think’ he might commit a crime? If I call them and say my neighbor is creepy there’s nothing they can do. Neither can mental health or the emergency room. Because Americans have the right to be creepy... until they become an actual danger to themselves or others.

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  • Robert
    02/19/2018
    ···

    This can’t ever happen again with the FBI not doing their job. Taking away guns is Not the Answer at All. Look at what happened in Chicago when they made it illegal to own a gun in their city and the Crime Rate went through their the Roof!!

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  • Donna
    02/17/2018
    ···

    The tip should have been investigated by the FBI, but I doubt that would have changed the sequence of horrific events that unfolded this week in south FL. I am tired of government leaders pointing fingers at anyone they can find to deflect responsibility from themselves every time one of these shootings occur. The FBI is not responsible for this tragedy, although procedures should be reviewed and , if necessary, modified or strictly enforced. The spineless, NRA-backed members of Congress are responsible for this tragedy, every one before it and all those that will occur in the future. They have been elected to represent the us in this system of self-government in which we all believe. Apparently, they are not doing their job and need to be fired. 90% of Americans support enhanced, universal background checks for ALL gun purchases. Almost 80% of Americans believe military-grade assault rifles have no place in our society or on our streets. This support should make it an easy choice for OUR representatives, those sent to Washington to reflect our priorities, to enact legislation to minimize the likelihood and extent of these events. Nowhere in our Constitution does it guarantee these same representatives be beholden to ANY special interest group possessing priorities that conflict with those held by the majority of Americans. Last year, the GOP-led Congress used their Congressional Review Act powers to rescind a rule that would have increased the number of people on the background check database by including those on Social Security for some mental illness issues, thus making it easier for certain individuals to purchase a firearm. This is in direct conflict to the wishes of the majority of Americans, but falls right in line with the wishes of the NRA and gun manufacturers. Congress refuses to even start a conversation regarding enhanced gun control measures in either house. Again, this is in direct conflict to the wishes of the majority of Americans, but falls right in line with the wishes of the NRA and gun manufacturers. We have a problem in this country that needs to be solved quickly with courage, compromise and compassion. Our students, their families and their parents deserve a chance to escape these all-too-regular tragedies. Stop pointing fingers elsewhere to deflect responsibility and blame from yourselves. Stop this insanity. The next child to needlessly die in a school shooting may be yours. How will you explain to your family you had the power to do something but chose money over life?

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  • Gail
    02/17/2018
    ···

    Deep in the pockets of the NRA, the GOP refuses to act on gun violence, preferring it seems, that our children be massacred to get money for their re-election while so righteously waving the constitution. Maybe we should start voting against them.

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  • Mark
    02/18/2018
    ···

    Of course the FBI should have acted on the information given over the tip line, and of course there should be an investigation into why there was no response. I do not think the blame lies solely at the feet of those at the FBI or in law enforcement. It lies heavily on the shoulders of the gun lobby and the GOP. How many years have we been offering our thoughts and prayers? It isn’t working. We bury our children and our friends almost every week, and yet our response has continued to be thoughts and prayers. It is time to end this charade. The gun lobby and the GOP would have us believe that any attempt to control who can get weapons, and how easily, will result in a complete loss of the 2nd amendment. This is an extreme and unacceptable point of view. It should be more difficult to buy an assault weapon than to get a drivers license.

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  • JTJ
    02/17/2018
    ···

    The FBI can’t prevent this. Neither will gun laws. Gun free zones are targets, that’s the simple truth. Until we allow responsible, trained, armed citizens to protect our children, this is going to keep happening.

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  • Michael.J.L
    02/16/2018
    ···

    Someone definitely dropped the ball on this, and I'm sure Director Wray will quickly get to the bottom of it. Let the investigation complete. I am sure someone is going to be held accountable, as they should.

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  • Chickie
    02/16/2018
    ···

    The FBI has admitted the Miami office did not forward the message. The FBI has taken responsibility for what did not happen on their end. What should be done AFTER 17 lives were taken? Certainly, a review as Jeff Sessions has called for, of procedure and make changes as necessary/needed. However, there were other signs, FB posts, behavior at school, etc. This 19 year old man, who has was suffering from mental illness, should have NEVER been allowed to purchase a gun. My heart aches for the families and friends who lost someone at the high school. Our representatives, including #45, need to now take their responsibility to act and bring about gun control. It is time to demand change on our gun laws. #enoughisenough

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    02/17/2018
    ···

    Why is it that when a major incident occurs during a Republican’s office, Republicans will call for the resignation of an agency leader or an opposing political leader and make stupid statements, such as “Heads will roll....”? My belief is that it is a spoke and mirror tactic. They have to make it appear to their supporters that they actually give a damn, or that they are actually doing something or it is a screen to cover their own personal negligence. Such is the case in Corporate culture, when something unethical occurs, Someone must take the blame and someone must be fired. In that manner, the public can be assured that the Company resolved the wrongdoer, etc. it’s all smoke and mirrors folks. Politicians will then use it on their campaigns, and tell you over and over how they called for the resignation of _________...... They will sell you their snake oil and many buy it and drink the kool-aid. You only fire a leader for willful neglect, which means they had personal knowledge of an event and instructed others not to follow protocol, or after repeated failures, in which an organization’s staff continually repeat the same mistake or many that cause detrimental harm to others. You do not fire a leader for political reasons or for political marketing or for a single event the leader likely could not have personal knowledge of.

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  • Robert
    02/20/2018
    ···

    In 1982, the city of Chicago passed a ban on handgun ownership similar to what was done in Washington, D.C., several years prior. The goal was obvious -- remove the guns, stop the bloodshed. To suggest it failed would be an understatement. The Capital City saw killings rise by a staggering 156 percent, while murders in the Windy City climbed 41 percent. (The national murder rate rose 18 percent during the same time.) As the Chicago Tribune aptly reported, the bans had no "discernible effect on the availability of guns to people with felonious intent. ... [Where] there is a demand for guns, there will always be a supply."

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  • Jan
    02/17/2018
    ···

    "See something, say something, do nothing" is not a viable, sustainable policy. An immediate After-Action Review and risk assessment of the FBI Tipline process should be conducted and results reported to Congress with the root cause analysis and lessons learned widely disseminated.

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  • Gopin2018
    02/17/2018
    ···

    This is tragic but not a surprise, the top leaders at the FBI are too obsessed with conservatives, Republicans etc that they aren’t working to stop real crimes from being perpetrated against our nation.

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  • Niki
    02/17/2018
    ···

    Stop blaming the good guys for not being able to prevent all these horrendous gun attacks. Do something that actually would be useful. Get rid of the guns! Like all the civilized rational countries. These episodes do not happen in Canada, Australia, or the UK. It is way past time to remove firearms from the hands of the public.

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  • Chester
    02/17/2018
    ···

    Gun control is not the solution of our problem. Criminals don’t follow the law and taking away guns make it even easier for Criminals. Politicians especially the Democrats and Hollywood have been desensitizing and demoralizing our nation for many years. They first take God, prayer and the Bible out of our schools, then they tout Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender is ok and should be accepted! They condone immortality and Political Correctness so this is the product of the Governments inconsistency’s! Also medicines and treatments used today for the mentally ill are much different than it was 50 or more years ago. It seems the only place we are having these mass shootings are in gun free zones. It’s time to train and arm our Principals, Teachers and Staff. In today’s culture that is going to be the only solution!

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