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Florida shooting: FBI was warned that accused could attack school

A person close to the accused gunman Nikolas Cruz called an FBI tip line on January 5 to warn that he owned guns, had made disturbing social media posts and had the potential to conduct a school shooting

world Updated: Feb 16, 2018 23:54 IST
Reuters
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Nikolas Cruz (C) appears via video monitor with Melisa McNeill (R), his public defender, at a bond court hearing after being charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US, on Thursday. (Reuters Photo)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday acknowledged that it mishandled a January tip that the 19-year-old man accused of killing 17 people at a Florida high school had guns and the desire to kill.

A person close to the accused gunman Nikolas Cruz called an FBI tip line on January 5 to warn that he owned guns, had made disturbing social media posts and had the potential to conduct a school shooting, the FBI said in a statement.

This tip appears unrelated to the previously reported YouTube comment in which a person named Nikolas Cruz said “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” The FBI acknowledged getting that tip as well but failing to connect it to the accused gunman.

“Under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life,” the FBI said in its statement on Friday. “The information then should have been forwarded to the FBI Miami field office, where appropriate investigative steps would have been taken. We have determined that these protocols were not followed.”

Wednesday’s massacre also raised concerns about potential failures in school security and stirred the ongoing US debate about gun rights, which are protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

“We are still investigating the facts,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in the statement. “We have spoken with victims and families, and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy.”

Cruz, who had been kicked out of high school for undisclosed disciplinary reasons, made a brief court appearance on Thursday and was ordered held without bond.

“He’s a broken human being,” his lawyer, public defender Melissa McNeill, told reporters. “He’s sad, he’s mournful, he’s remorseful.”

Wednesday’s shooting ranks as the greatest loss of life from school gun violence since the 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 20 first-graders and six adult educators dead.

First Published: Feb 16, 2018 23:34 IST