House chairmen want a briefing from FBI officials within the next two weeks on the Bureau’s admission that a January tip about the Parkland, Fla., school shooter didn’t receive proper follow-up.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been charged with 17 counts of pre-meditated murder for walking onto his former campus, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and opening fire on Valentine’s Day. Cruz had been expelled from the school and reportedly had received treatment in the past for mental health issues.
The FBI said that on Jan. 5, “a person close” to Cruz contacted their 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,” the FBI said in a Friday statement.
“Under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life. The information then should have been forwarded to the FBI Miami Field Office, where appropriate investigative steps would have been taken,” the FBI continued. “We have determined that these protocols were not followed for the information received by the PAL on January 5. The information was not provided to the Miami Field Office, and no further investigation was conducted at that time.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray said that while facts are still being investigated, he’s “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,” Wray said. “We have spoken with victims and families, and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy. 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.”
Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) sent a letter Friday to Wray noting, “In the wake of this tragic shooting, Cruz’s past has been sifted through to determine whether there were warning signs that he was capable of such monstrous actions. There were.”
“The Committees are seeking to understand these protocols and why they were not followed in this case,” Gowdy and Goodlatte wrote. “Accordingly, the Committees request the FBI brief the Committees on the tip, protocols, and FBI’s actions before and after the incident as soon as possible, but no later than March 2.”
Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor who is leaving Congress at the end of this term to return to his judicial career, told CBS this morning that he supports the surviving Marjory Stoneman Douglas students who are calling on lawmakers to take more legislative action to help prevent future school shootings.
“The first thing I would say to those children and my own is, I’m sorry that you have grown up in a generation that has only known violence and there’s no sanctuary, there’s no place of refuge. The schools aren’t safe. The churches aren’t safe, the concerts. So, I applaud their activism,” Gowdy said.
“I would encourage them to look at three components, the shooter himself, the instrumentality, and then any form of mitigation, whether it is magazine capacity, whether it is the speed with which the projectile is expelled,” the congressman added. “But you have to look at all three. You have to look at the shooter, and you have to look at the instrumentality by which that shooter is killing people. I applaud their activism. And if I were them, I would be as angry as they are.”
Gowdy added that in school shootings, “almost 80 percent of the time there was notice provided.”
“So you have to look at all of it,” he said. “If you only look at the instrumentality, and you don’t look at the person who is pulling the trigger, then I think you’re doing a disservice to everyone who wants to see an end to killings, including mass killings.”