The Corner

Law & the Courts

A Specific, and Unheeded Warning to the FBI

On the heels of yesterday’s discussion of just how many “red flags” surrounded the Lakeland shooter, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a stunning statement that confirms that sometimes, someone can see something, say something… and law enforcement authorities will not act upon the warning:

On January 5, 2018, a person close to Nikolas Cruz contacted the FBI’s Public Access Line (PAL) tipline to report concerns about him. The caller 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.

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.

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.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a released statement, “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.”

This comes after separate federal authorities failed to put the proper information into National Instant Criminal Background Check System, mistakes that failed to prevent gun sales to the shooters in Charleston and Sutherland Springs, Texas. In the case of the Charleston shooter, the FBI failed to properly enter into its database the information that had been provided by local law enforcement; in Sutherland Springs, the the killer was convicted of domestic violence in 2012 and he received a “bad conduct” discharge from the military. But that information, too, failed to reach the background check database.

The public would like to have faith in law enforcement, and we recognize that FBI employees are fallible human beings. But this is heartbreaking and egregious.

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