During a private meeting with members of the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich formally admitted the agency had missed “multiple opportunities” to investigate, and possibly stop, accused Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz. Citing at least two previously reported instances in which the FBI received tips about Cruz’s violent behavior or online postings, Bowdich and the attending congressional members discussed precisely what happened in the agency’s mishandling of the tips, and why its findings weren’t shared with the local authorities.
Bowdich cited two tips the FBI received about shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, in September 2017 and January 2018, that were mishandled, including one in which a FBI call taker “did not ask any standard investigative probing questions.” The 2018 call taker was able to connect Cruz to the earlier call about a threatening YouTube comment, but after discussing it with a supervisor, they decided not to pursue the matter and the case was closed.
BuzzFeed adds that one of the tips discussed by the committee and Bowdich was one it first reported concerning a YouTube blogger’s flagging of comments made by a user identifying themselves as “Nikolas Cruz.” “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” the commenter wrote on one of the Mississippi man’s video posts. The tip was sent to the FBI’s field office in the state, who then interviewed the tipster and conducted a month-long investigation, but closed it when agents could not find “personal identifiable information on the user who posted the threatening comment.”
Regarding another alleged YouTube comment by Cruz, Bowdich said an FBI call-taker “was able to connect information about Nikolas Cruz to the September 2017 tip about the threatening YouTube comment.” However, that particular tip was nonetheless deemed not worth pursuing, and the FBI “did not share information with state and local authorities.”