FBI didn’t follow protocol in tip about school shooting suspect

The FBI said it received a tip about Nikolas Cruz's desire to kill people more than a month before he allegedly opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The bureau said it didn't follow protocol in dealing with the information they received. Photo by Gary Rothstein/UPI | License Photo
By Danielle Haynes  |  Feb. 16, 2018

(UPI) — The FBI said Friday it did not follow proper protocols after receiving a tip in January about Nikolas Cruz’s “desire to kill people” more than a month before he was arrested for shooting 17 people dead at a Florida high school.

The FBI’s statement is one of a number of indicators prior to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that the suspect acted suspiciously or made threatening comments.

The bureau said “a person close to” Cruz contacted its Public Access Line to report “concerns” about him Jan. 5.

“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,” an FBI statement said.

But the FBI did not follow up on the tip. Typically, the FBI would have assessed the potential threat, then sent the information to the FBI Miami Field Office.

“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,” the statement added.

The FBI is the lead investigative agency into the Wednesday shooting.

“We are still investigating the facts,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday. “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.”

It’s possible the bureau might have been tipped off about Cruz earlier, in September.

Robert Lasky, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Miami office, said Thursday the bureau had been warned about a comment made on YouTube in September by a user with the name Nikolas Cruz.

“I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” the comment said.

The FBI said it couldn’t “positively identify” whether the YouTube comment came from the same man.

“No other information was included with that comment which would indicate a time, location or the true identity of the person who made the comment,” Lasky said. “The FBI conducted database reviews, checks but was unable to further identify the person who actually made the comment.”

Some students and neighbors of Cruz also said they observed troubling behavior from the 19-year-old.

“‘If you were to pick one person you might predict in the future would shoot up a school or do this, it would be this kid,'” John Crescitelli told the Miami Herald, quoting his son, Daniel, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Onetime neighbor Shelby Spano said Nikolas Cruz once threw eggs at her husband’s car. Another time, he shot at another neighbor’s chickens.

Cruz also had been expelled from the high school for an undisclosed reason, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.