Failures by the FBI in preventing the mass shooting in a Florida high school last month were revealed to lawmakers in a closed-door meeting Tuesday.
FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich informed members of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees of mistakes and lack of action in following up on leads on suspect Nikolas Cruz who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Bowdich reportedly detailed two occasions when FBI staffers received tips about Cruz but failed to act, eventually closing the case, according to Fox News.
Cruz stated “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,”in a YouTube video which was reported to the FBI in January 2017. In another 2018 tip, an FBI call taker “did not ask any standard investigative probing questions” and, despite connecting the two calls as related, decided after speaking with a supervisor, not to pursue the leads.
“Despite multiple opportunities, the FBI did not share information with state and local authorities” about Cruz, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said in a joint statement.
Other lawmakers expressed their frustration and shock at the ineffective FBI process. Bowdich was reportedly unable to answer questions from Democratic Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi and Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz about the agency’s capacity to monitor social media in uncovering signs of someone planning an attack.
“The FBI came in to brief and they’re describing different flection points in regards to this individual’s interaction with law enforcement and mental health professionals, and they’re telling us about the different times that red flags were raised and that notice was given that this guy was going to do something horrible and tragic on a massive scale,” Gaetz told The Daily Caller.
“Raja, sort of flipped that on its head and asked well,instead of sitting around waiting for the phone to ring with someone expressing concern about a dangerous individual, are we using technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning to go and regularly scrape social media platforms and digital platforms for content that would then inform on someone’s intentions,” he added.
Krishnamoorthi was critical of the agency’s current vetting process.
“The way they take tips, the way that they take leads has to be closely examined because the lead with regard to this specific issue was so specific. It was detailed, it was substantive, it was urgent,” Krishnamoorthi told The Daily Caller. “The woman called in had been monitoring the social media, had seen the guns on his bed, said he dressed like ISIS. I mean what more do you need for an agent to go to the home.“
Gaetz expressed frustration that many questions have still not been answered.
“It’s ridiculous Google and Amazon and Facebook can run algorithms 24/7 against my blog, my website, my social media platforms to figure out what kind of sunscreen to sell me, but our law enforcement can’t use the very same ubiquitous technology to identify people who are most likely to do a great deal of harm,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Broward County grand jury announced a 34-count indictment on Cruz, with 17 counts each of premeditated murder and attempted murder.
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