SCHOOL SHOOTING: FBI didn't act on tip about Nikolas Cruz

By Greg Pallone and Digital Media Staff,
Last Updated: Friday, February 16, 2018, 6:42 PM EST

There was backlash Friday after the Federal Bureau of Investigation admitted the ball was dropped when information came in about accused Parkland school gunman Nikolas Cruz.

And now, Florida's governor is calling for the FBI director's resignation, citing Cruz's gun ownership, desire to kill people and disturbing social media posts, and the big one -- the potential of him conducting a school shooting.

Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and he is being held without bond after Wednesday's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Friday a "person close to Nikolas Cruz" contacted the FBI tipline on Jan. 5 to report Cruz's behavior. In a prepared statement, the FBI said: "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 information from the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life and then fowarded to the FBI Miami Field Office.

"Lots of crying, lots of talking, trying to understand," said Sherri Palmer, whose 17-year-old daughter, Madison, lost one of her friends Wednesday.

Madison was able to talk to grief counselors Friday.

"She was able to talk it out, she met a couple other friends there," said Palmer. "They were able to share some memories."

As this family, and so many others grieve, the question is now -- could this tragedy have been stopped?

It's the FBI tip, and Cruz' social media posts that has Gov. Rick Scott calling for Wray to resign.

Scott says, "We constantly promote 'see something, say something,' and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act."

Sen. Marco Rubio says the FBI "utterly failed victims of (the) Florida shooting," also saying, "It is inexcusable that the FBI failed to follow protocols, warning the Bureau over a month ago of his desire to kill and erratic behavior."

Wray said the FBI is still investigating what happened.

"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," he said. 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.

A vigil honoring the high school shooting victims was held Thursday night.

"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."

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a review of FBI and Justice Department procedures after bureau failed to investigate the tip on Cruz.

Scott called what happened unacceptable.


Meanwhile, the community of Parkland is still dealing with the deaths of 17 of their own, and the debate over gun control and mental illness has flared up again.

A candlelight vigil was held Thursday night and thousands showed up in solidarity. Many of the students have started to accept they will not be seeing their best friends or favorite teachers back at school whenever Stoneman Douglas does open back up.

The investigation is still ongoing as authorities are trying to determine why Cruz walked on campus with an AR-15 and was equipped with a gas mask and smoke grenades, and set off a fire alarm to draw students out of their classrooms shortly before the school day ended.

The 19-year-old Cruz may have confessed to the deadly shootings, but investigators are making sure every I is dotted and T is crossed.

On Friday, many eyes were on government officials. U.S. senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio planned visits to the little town that was known for being safe.

During his visit, Nelson said: "Maybe this will be the turning point. Maybe the students speaking out so boldly as they have on national TV ... maybe this will be the turning point. Enough is enough."

Parents and students say they appreciate the thoughts and prayers but want more. Many say they would like to see some sort of specific plans on how to deal with mental illness or guns. Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runice emphasized those thoughts at the candlelight vigil.

“Those lives should not be lost in vain. Those lives are telling us that now is the time for us to do something different. Our children are writing to us. They're telling us. School board members, community, elected officials. Now is the time for us to enact some common sense gun laws in this country," he said.

Gov. Rick Scott did not specifically say whether he will commit to any changes to gun regulations just yet. Only that he plans to have some very serious talks in the coming days.

However, during a news conference on Thursday morning, Scott stressed that students should never have to worry about gun violence.

"The violence has to stop. We cannot lose another child in this country to violence in the school," he said.

While speaking to the nation on Thursday, President Donald Trump said that his administration will be "tackling" mental illness.

"We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health. Later this month, I will be meeting with the nation’s governors and attorney generals, where making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority. It is not enough to simply take actions to make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference," Trump said.

Trump is scheduled to travel to Florida on Friday to Broward County and meet with the families and local officials there. He was originally scheduled to visit Orlando on Friday to talk about his new infrastructure plan, but he has canceled that trip.

Interactive timeline: Parkland shooting