FBI: 'Protocols were not followed' after tip about Florida school shooting suspect

February 16, 2018 - 2:01 pm

(WASHINGTON) -- FBI says proper protocol was not followed in following up on a tip about, Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the a deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school on Wednesday in which 17 people were killed.

A person close to Cruz called an FBI tip line on Jan. 5 with information about Cruz's desire to kill people, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting, according to an FBI statement.

“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 FBI said in a statement Friday.

FBI director Christopher Wray said the agency is still investigating and regrets any additional pain the information could cause to victims.

“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 in the statement.

In a statement, Florida Gov. Rick Scott called on the FBI director to resign. “The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable," he said. “... We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act. ‘See something, say something’ is an incredibly important tool and people must have confidence in the follow through from law enforcement. The FBI director needs to resign.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also slammed the FBI, saying the agency "utterly failed the families of 17 innocent souls."

“The fact that the FBI is investigating this failure is not enough," Rubio said in a statement. "Both the House and Senate need to immediately initiate their own investigations into the FBI’s protocols for ensuring tips from the public about potential killers are followed through."

Cruz was arrested after the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. 

Cruz -- a former student there -- slipped away from the campus by blending in with other students who were trying to escape, police said. After a tense manhunt, he was apprehended.

He briefly appeared in court Thursday and was held on no bond.

Brody Speno, a neighbor who spent nearly a decade living a few doors down from Cruz, told ABC News that the suspected shooter was "aggressive, crazy weird, psycho."

Speno said he remembers one day when Cruz suddenly "cornered a squirrel and was pegging it with rocks trying to kill it."

Another neighbor, Malcolm Roxburgh, said Cruz would attack pets.

He called Cruz a "strange character" who always stood out from other teenagers in the neighborhood.

Roxburgh's most vivid memory of Cruz is his roaming the streets. Even in South Florida's sweltering heat, Roxburgh said, Cruz occasionally walked around in a camouflage jacket.

Public defender Melisa McNeill, who appeared with Cruz in court Thursday, called him a "broken child."

"My children they go to school in this community and I feel horrible for these families," McNeill said, adding, "and Mr. Cruz feels that pain."

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