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FBI Grilled by Congress over Mishandling of Parkland Shooter

by Countable | 3.14.18

What’s the story?

  • On the same day students stage a national walkout over gun violence, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the FBI’s mishandling of tips about the alleged shooter behind the Parkland, Florida massacre.

  • FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich testified alongside the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Thomas Brandon, and the head of the National Threat Assessment Center, Lina Alathari.

  • Days after the February 14 mass shooting, the FBI apologized for failing to act on tips about Nikolas Cruz, the man charged with the mass shooting.

Why does it matter?

  • A month before the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the FBI received a tip about the accused gunman and his "desire to kill people"—but investigators failed to act on it.

  • And last September, the FBI was alerted to a YouTube post made by a "Nikolas Cruz" which read: "I’m going to be a professional school shooter."

  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) noted Cruz "didn't slip through one crack, he slipped through every crack."

  • Rubio continued: "This tragedy was the result of two things: the first is of a multi-systemic failure of government agencies at the federal, state and local levels. And second because of vulnerabilities in our existing laws that need to be addressed."

What is the FBI saying?

  • "We made mistakes here. No question about that," Bowdich told the committee. “That said even had we done everything right I’m not sure we could have stopped this act, but it would have been nice to try. It sure would have been nice for our investigator to sit down in front of Mr. Cruz and actually have that discussion.”

  • Bowdich explained to the committee that since the mistakes were uncovered, the FBI has instituted changes:

"We have taken certain immediate remedial measures, including doubling the number of special agent supervisors assigned to review tips received by non-agent personnel. Other steps will likely be taken up completion."

What do you think?

Rubio said the tragedy resulted from "a multi-systemic failure of government agencies at the federal, state and local levels"—what should change at those levels? Is the FBI doing enough to ensure tips don’t fall through the cracks? Should the head of FBI, as Florida Gov. Rick Scott has suggested, resign? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: Coral Springs Talk / Wikimedia Commons)

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