Former Special Agent: FBI's Failure to Act on Tip About Florida Shooter Is 'Tragic,' 'Unconscionable'
On "America's Newsroom" on Monday, former FBI Special Agent John Iannarelli said the bureau made a "tragic" and "unconscionable" mistake by mishandling a tip about Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 when he opened fire at a Florida high school on Valentine's Day.
The FBI said in a statement it received a call in January from a person close to Cruz through its Public Access Line tipline to express concerns about Cruz's erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts. That tip said that Cruz had a gun, wanted to “kill people” and there was the “potential of him conducting a school shooting.”
The agency said that while that information should have been forwarded to the Miami FBI field office, it was not, and no further investigation was conducted.
Iannarelli said there is nothing in the tip that is a direct, specific violation of the law, but it nonetheless should have been sent to the Miami office, and agents should have been dispatched to interview Cruz.
"It's a tragic situation and, frankly, it's unconscionable," Iannarelli said, noting it is still unclear if there was a technical glitch or if someone at the FBI tips center "dropped the ball."
He said he agrees with FBI Director Christopher Wray that this must be investigated to determine what went wrong, because this blunder begs the question: What other tips or leads may have been mishandled?
"We have to be sure that each one of those is being addressed to keep people safe," Iannarelli said.
He added that it's also important for the FBI to assure the American people that the "see something, say something" system is a critical and effective tool for law enforcement.
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