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FBI will brief House committees on Parkland shooting failures

Nikolas Cruz appears in court for a status hearing before Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Cruz is facing 17 charges of premeditated murder in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (Mike Stocker/Sun Sentinel/TNS)
March 05, 2018

The FBI will brief a pair of House committees Tuesday on its admitted failures to follow up on warnings about the Parkland, Fla., high school shooter.

The scheduling of the briefing was spurred by a letter House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., co-signed and sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray two days after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The letter requested the FBI “brief the committees on the tip, protocols, and FBI’s actions before and after the incident as soon as possible, but no later than March 2, 2018.”

The FBI briefed committee staff last month and provided a transcript of the phone call to the FBI tip line regarding Nikolas Cruz, who has admitted killing 17 people in the Feb. 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglas. The briefing on Tuesday will be for all members of both the House Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary committees and is closed to the public.

Following that FBI briefing, the Judiciary Committee intends to conduct additional oversight into the matter, according to a committee aide who declined to provide more specifics.

The tip, and the FBI lack of response, has been a source of controversy.

A woman who knew Cruz called the FBI tip line on Jan. 5 and said, “I know he’s going to explode,” and added she worried he would be slipping “into a school and just shooting the place up.” Local police agencies received similar warnings from family friends who knew Cruz owned multiple firearms — as well as a call from Cruz himself after the death of his mother seeking help — in the months leading up to the shooting.

The FBI admitted the information from the Jan. 5 tipster amounted to a “potential threat to life,” and under established protocols should have been forwarded to the FBI Miami Field Office, where “appropriate investigative steps would have been taken.” The information was never provided to the local office.

FBI officials admitted the error and expressed their regret last month.


© 2018 McClatchy Washington Bureau

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