Revelations that good Samaritans warned the FBI about mass shooter Nikolaus Cruz months in advance fit a disturbing pattern in which the failure to follow standard operating procedures unwittingly enabled a deranged killer.
First, the FBI received a warning about Cruz after he posted a disturbing comment on YouTube saying that he aspired to become a “professional school shooter.”
On January 5, 2018, a person close to Cruz contacted the FBI’s tip line to report their concerns. The caller told agents about the accused shooter’s access to firearms, self-professed desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disconcerting social media posts. They revealed their anxieties about the potential of Cruz carrying out a school shooting.
In a damning press release from the FBI’s National Press Office, the Bureau concedes that agents ignored protocols after receiving the January 5 call.
The FBI never reported the tip to its Miami field office, and no further investigation occurred.
FBI Director Christopher Wray offered a mea culpa:
“We are 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.
“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.”