The FBI said Friday that it did not follow protocol after a caller submitted a tip about the Florida shooting suspect earlier this year.
Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who was previously expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, confessed to opening fire on the school this week. At least 17 people were killed.
Someone contacted the FBI’s public tip line in January to alert it to Cruz’s behavior, according to a statement from the agency. The caller said this behavior included a “desire to kill people” and “the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”
“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,” reads the statement. “We have determined that these protocols were not followed.”
Cruz was charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He is being held without bail.
The tip earlier this year appears to be the second time the law enforcement agency was alerted to Cruz’s behavior. In September, a Mississippi man reported a comment that a YouTube user named “nikolas cruz” had left on a video. The comment said, “Im going to be a professional school shooter.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray said the bureau was still investigating the facts.
“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,” 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.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said it was clear that warning signs were missed and resulted in “tragic consequences.” He promised a review.
“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,” Sessions said. “We will make this a top priority. It has never been more important to encourage every person in every community to spot the warning signs and alert law enforcement.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) called on Wray to resign, calling the bureau’s failure to act “unacceptable.”
“Seventeen innocent people are dead and acknowledging a mistake isn’t going to cut it,” Scott said in a statement. “An apology will never bring these 17 Floridians back to life or comfort the families who are in pain.”
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said later Friday that his office had received roughly 20 “calls for service” regarding Cruz over the last few years.
“Every one of these calls will be looked at and scrutinized,” he said.
According to police, Cruz legally purchased an AR-15-style rifle in February 2017 after passing a background check that included a review of whether he had been found “mentally defective” by the state.
After the shooting, several of Cruz’s former classmates described him as a troubled individual who had previously exhibited violent tendencies.
“He always had guns on him and stuff like that,” one former classmate told CBS Miami. “Honestly, a lot of people a lot of people were saying it was going to be him.”
This article has been updated with additional information about the shooting, as well as with comment from Scott and Sessions.