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FBI: Protocols 'Not Followed' After Tip Received About Florida School Shooting Suspect

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — The FBI says it failed to investigate a specific report in January that Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz could be plotting an attack.

The agency said in a statement Friday that the tip should've been investigated thoroughly because it was a potential threat to life. Cruz has been arrested and charged with killing 17 people at a high school earlier this week. 

On Friday, Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said Cruz would plead guilty to avoid the death penalty, and a painful trial.

He's admitted to killing the victims with a rifle that he legally bought.

"Obviously he shouldn't have had that weapon, and shouldn't have been able to do the kinds of things that he did," Deputy White House Press Secretary, Raj Shah said. 

The FBI said on Jan. 5, a tipster who was close to Cruz called the agency's tipline and provided information about "Cruz's gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting."

FBI Director Christopher Wray said neither piece of information was ever passed along to the agnecy's Miami field office.

"The potential of the FBI to miss something is always there. We have protocols. We will be looking into where and how if something broke down and come back stronger than ever before," Special Agent Rob Lasky said.

FBI Statement On Nikolas Cruz Tip
(credit: FBI)

"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," the statement said.

The FBI said it has determined that "these protocols were not followed for the information received."

"The information was not provided to the Miami field office, and no further investigation was conducted at that time," the statement said. 

The FBI was also notified about a comment on a YouTube video posted by a "Nikolas Cruz" last year. It investigated the comment but did not determine who made it.

"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," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in the statement. "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."

Florida Governor Rick Scott called on Director Wray to resign.

"The FBI's failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable," he said.

The Broward County Sheriff said the department received twenty calls about Cruz over the past few years. They are investigating how each of those calls was handled.

On Friday night, President Trump and the First Lady met with survivors and thanked medical staff at a Florida hospital.

"It's very sad, something like that could happen, but the job the doctors did, the nurses, the hospital, first responders, law enforcement, really incredible," he said.

The first couple then met with some of the first responders who rushed to the scene of the attack.

"What a job you've done, and the doctors too at the hospital the combination was incredible. I hope you're getting credit for it because you deserve it," he said.

The first of the victims were laid to rest on Friday.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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