Florida high school shooting

Pressure mounts on FBI director to quit

People visiting a temporary memorial in Parkland, Florida, last Friday, for the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead. Anger over the attack intensified after the FBI said that information it had recei
People visiting a temporary memorial in Parkland, Florida, last Friday, for the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead. Anger over the attack intensified after the FBI said that information it had received about the gunman had not been sent to its Miami field office for further investigation.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
People visiting a temporary memorial in Parkland, Florida, last Friday, for the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead. Anger over the attack intensified after the FBI said that information it had recei
Above: Mourners grieving as they wait for a candlelight vigil to begin in Parkland on Thursday. PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE
Above: Mourners grieving as they wait for a candlelight vigil to begin in Parkland on Thursday. Below: Suspect Nikolas Cruz (centre) at a Broward County court, where he was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Initial reports point to a tro
Above: Suspect Nikolas Cruz (centre) at a Broward County court, where he was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Initial reports point to a troubled youth fascinated by weaponry.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE

Florida Governor calls for him to go after agency admits it had failed to probe tip-off about killer

PARKLAND, Florida • Pressure is mounting on the Federal Bureau of Investigation director to resign after his agency admitted it failed to investigate a warning that the teenager accused of killing 17 people at a Florida high school possessed a gun and the desire to kill.

The disclosure spread angry disbelief among residents of the Miami suburb of Parkland where last Wednesday's massacre unfolded, and led Florida's Governor Rick Scott to call for FBI chief Christopher Wray to resign.

"The FBI's failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable," Mr Scott, a Republican, said in a statement.

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

Mr Scott's comments came after the FBI said in a statement last Friday that a person described as someone close to accused gunman Nikolas Cruz, 19, called an FBI tip line on Jan 5, weeks before the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, to report concerns about him.

"The caller provided information about Cruz's gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behaviour, and disturbing social-media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting," it said.

That information should have been forwarded to the FBI's Miami field office for further investigation, but "we have determined that these protocols were not followed", it said.

United States Attorney-General Jeff Sessions said he has ordered a review of FBI procedures following the shooting, carried out by a gunman armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and numerous ammunition cartridges.

In a statement, Mr Wray said: "We have spoken with victims and families, and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy."

The mishandled information followed a tip-off to the FBI in September about a YouTube comment in which a person named Nikolas Cruz said: "I'm going to be a professional school shooter."

The FBI said it investigated that comment but was unable to trace its origins, closing the inquiry until Cruz surfaced in connection with last Wednesday's shooting.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told a news conference that his office had received about 20 "calls for service" in the last few years regarding Cruz and would scrutinise all of them to see if they were handled properly.

The massacre has raised concerns about potential lapses in school security and stirred the ongoing US debate pitting proponents of tougher restrictions on firearms against advocates for gun rights, which are protected by the US Constitution's Second Amendment.

Some political leaders, including President Donald Trump, have said mental illness prompted the shooting.

EARLY WARNING

The caller provided information about Cruz's gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behaviour, and disturbing social-media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.

AN FBI STATEMENT, referring to an alert it had received about gunman Nikolas Cruz.

Cruz had been expelled for undisclosed disciplinary reasons from the school where the attack occurred. Former classmates have described him as a social outcast troublemaker fascinated by weaponry.

Some relatives and friends of shooting victims blamed Florida's lenient gun laws, which allow an 18-year-old to buy an assault rifle. Outside a vigil last Friday, a sign read: "Kids don't need guns. No guns under 21."

More vigils and funerals are being held over the weekend in and around Parkland.

Two gun shows and a rally calling for firearm safety legislation are due to be held nearby.

Last Friday, Mr Trump and First Lady Melania visited survivors, victims and medical staff who have treated the injured. He later appeared at the Broward County Sheriff's Office, along with the governor and other politicians, offering praise to first responders.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 18, 2018, with the headline 'Pressure mounts on FBI director to quit'. Print Edition | Subscribe