The acting deputy director of the FBI said Wednesday that the bureau should have done more in the run-up to the Parkland school shooting last month that claimed the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida.
“While we will never know if we could have prevented this tragedy, we clearly should have done more,” Acting Deputy Director David Bowdich said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Mr. Bowdich said the bureau got an email tip on Sept. 25 from a person in Mississippi who said someone using the username “Nikolas Cruz” posted on a YouTube page: “Im going to be a professional school shooter.”
He said officials interviewed the tipster on Oct. 2, but the lead was closed after searches of FBI databases and open sources led to a belief that the true identity of the poster could not be determined.
Authorities say Mr. Cruz, 19, used an AR-15-style rifle to kill 17 people at Stoneman Douglas on Feb. 14.
There was a subsequent phone call on Jan. 5 from someone identifying herself as a friend of the Cruz family who said the teen had threatened his mother with a rifle, that he wanted to kill people, and that he was “going to explode.”
After the call, the FBI operator conducted a search of FBI databases and found the closed lead out of Mississippi. She consulted with her supervisor and the matter was closed, and the information wasn’t forwarded to a field office for further review, Mr. Bowdich said in his testimony.
Mr. Bowdich said the FBI could have and should have done more in response, and that an internal investigation is ongoing. He said they’ve already doubled the number of special agent supervisors assigned to review tips received by “non-agent personnel.”
“When we make mistakes, we will not hide them, and we are committed, with your help, to doing whatever is necessary to correct our mistakes,” he said.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley convened the hearing to conduct oversight of what happened in the run-up to the shooting and discuss potential legislative responses.
“At all levels, law enforcement must explain what went wrong, why it went wrong, and what steps it is taking to make sure these failures never happen again,” Mr. Grassley said as he opened the hearing.
Mr. Grassley said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and Michael Carroll, secretary of Florida’s Department of Children and Families, were invited to testify but declined.
“By thumbing their noses at Congress, Sheriff Israel and Secretary Carroll have let the American people down and also the citizens of Florida they serve,” he said.
The hearing took place as students across the country were participating in a 10 a.m. “walk-out” to mark the one-month anniversary of the shooting and to try to spur lawmakers to action.
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