Local authorities and the FBI got multiple warnings that the suspected Florida shooter was dangerous — but no one followed up

  • The Broward County Sheriff’s Office released records of 23 calls deputies received about the Florida shooting suspect, Nikolas Cruz.
  • Two of those calls warned that Cruz could become a school shooter.
  • The FBI was also tipped off that Cruz was going to “get into a school and just shoot the place up,” according to a transcript of the call.
  • None of the tips were thoroughly investigated, even as people close to Cruz grew increasingly alarmed about his behaviour.

Barely a week after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz allegedly gunned down 17 people at his former high school, authorities at the local and federal levels have revealed that they each fielded calls warning that Cruz could shoot up a school – but they never followed up.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office on Friday released a list of 23 calls it received requesting service at Cruz’s home, including 18 specifically about Cruz. Two of those calls were from people who knew Cruz and expressed fear that he would shoot up a school.

The FBI, too, is under heavy scrutiny after admitting last week the agency failed to follow protocol in handling a tip that Cruz had a “desire to kill” and could commit a school shooting.

Newly released records and transcripts of those calls reveal a series of instances where law-enforcement agencies neglected to investigate or take action against Cruz, even while family members, neighbours, and other people who knew him grew increasingly alarmed about his behaviour.

‘A school shooter in the making’

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that none of the 23 calls they received in the last decade “appeared arrestable under Florida law,” but it added that the two calls involving school shooting threats are being investigated internally.

One call occurred in 2016, after someone alerted authorities that Cruz posted an Instagram picture indicating he “planned to shoot up the school.”

According to the call records, a deputy determined that Cruz had knives and a BB gun and informed a school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but it’s unclear what the officer did with the information.

That school resource officer was Scot Peterson, who resigned on Thursday following revelations that he didn’t intervene during the shooting, despite being armed and standing outside the building.

The second call being investigated by the Broward County sheriff’s office occurred in November 2017, after an anonymous caller in Massachusetts warned that Cruz “could be a school shooter in the making” and was collecting guns and knives.

The call records said “no report was initiated” as a result of the tip, and a deputy later said he referred the caller to the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office.

Many of the other calls the Broward sheriff’s office listed were made by Cruz’s mother Lynda, often regarding violent outbursts or instances where Cruz ran away from home or went missing.

One caller reported in 2016 that Cruz made a suicide attempt by ingesting gasoline, cut himself, possessed “items concerning hate related communications/symbols,” and expressed a desire to buy a gun for hunting.

The call records showed that a mental health counselor was consulted and said Cruz didn’t meet the criteria to be involuntarily committed to a mental-health facility – a move that would have legally barred Cruz from possessing or buying guns.

Florida shooting students
People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school that reportedly killed and injured multiple people on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Getty Images/Joe Raedle

‘Something is gonna happen’

But the FBI has received the bulk of the nationwide outrage so far over law-enforcement’s handling of Cruz. The tip fumbling prompted calls for the director to resign and triggered a Justice Department review.

The person who called the agency’s tip line in January told the bureau that Cruz was “going to explode” and “get into a school and just shoot the place up,” according to a transcript first published by The Wall Street Journal on Friday.

The tipster said she was worried about Cruz, knew of his previous violent outbursts, and said she made the call because she wanted a “clear conscience.”

She added that she believed Cruz had the mental capacity of a 12- or 14-year-old and had made a series of disturbing Instagram posts about wanting to kill himself and others.

“Something is gonna happen,” she said. “Because he’s – he doesn’t have the mental capacity. He can’t – he’s so outraged if someone talks to him about certain things.”

‘The truth will come out in time’

Florida school shooting aftermath
PARKLAND, FL – FEBRUARY 15: Police control a road near the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed by a gunman yesterday, on February 15, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested the suspect after a short manhunt, and have identified him as 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) Mark Wilson/Getty

First-responders to the high-school shooting are also increasingly under fire since the Broward County sheriff revealed that Peterson did “nothing” to intervene in the shooting

Peterson has faced criticism over his actions from survivors, the Broward County sheriff, and even President Donald Trump.

But Peterson wasn’t the only deputy who hesitated to enter the building during the gunfire – three other Broward County Sheriff’s deputies also stayed outside the school, hiding behind their vehicles with their pistols drawn, CNN reported Friday.

Instead, it was cops from the Coral Springs Police Department that first entered the building upon arrival, Coral Springs sources told CNN. Those officers were apparently stunned and upset that the Broward County deputies didn’t join them inside the school.

Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi addressed some of the rank-and-file officers’ concerns about the incident in an internal email CNN obtained.

The email acknowledged that “another agency has given the impression that it had provided the majority of the rescue efforts,” but reassured the officers that “this issue will be addressed, and the truth will come out in time.”