WASHINGTON – FBI Director Christopher Wray should step down after admitting that the Bureau mishandled a tip about the troubled youth who killed 17 people this week at a Florida high school, the Sunshine State’s governor said Friday.
“The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable. The FBI has admitted that they were contacted last month by a person who called to inform them of (Nikolas) Cruz’s ‘desire to kill people,’ and ‘the potential of him conducting a school shooting,’” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement.
Wray acknowledged earlier Friday that the FBI did not follow its own established protocols when a person close to Cruz alerted the Bureau early last month via its tipline that the 19-year-old might carry out a school shooting.
The tipster cited Cruz’s gun ownership, expressed desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts.
“We are still investigating the facts. I am committed to getting to the bottom of what happened in this particular matter,” Wray said.
“We have spoken with victims and families and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy,” he added.
Scott dismissed Wray’s expression of regret.
“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 governor said.
Under established protocols, the information the caller provided to the bureau on Jan. 5 should have been assessed as a potential threat to life and forwarded on to the FBI Miami field office, Wray said.
But the Miami field office was not notified and no further probe was conducted.
The FBI’s admission was also followed by an announcement from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions the Department of Justice would review the Bureau’s procedures.
“It is now clear that the warning signs were there and tips to the FBI were missed. We see the tragic consequences of those failures,” Sessions said. “The FBI in conjunction with our state and local partners must act flawlessly to prevent all attacks. This is imperative, and we must do better.”
“I have ordered ... an immediate review of our process here at the Department of Justice and FBI to ensure that we reach the highest level of prompt and effective response to indications of potential violence that come to us,” the attorney general said.
Wednesday’s massacre at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 and also left 15 people injured, was the 17th school shooting in the United States thus far in 2018, according to non-profit gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.
Cruz, who has a history of mental illness, is being held without bond at the Broward County Main Jail in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on 17 counts of premeditated murder.