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FBI admits failing to act on Florida school gunman tip-off

FBI admits failing to act on Florida school gunman tip-off
By Alasdair Sandford
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The FBI acknowledges it mishandled a January tip that the teenager accused of killing 17 people had guns and the desire to kill.


Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz has confessed to the killing spree that left 17 students and faculty dead on Wednesday.

A published court document describes the teenager's account, as given to police, of how he carried out the atrocity at the Marjory Douglas High School in Parkland, on the edge of the Everglades.

The 19-year-old appeared in court on Thursday charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

“Cruz stated that he was the gunman who entered the school campus armed with a AR-15 and began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on the school grounds,” police say in the arrest papers.

The document goes on to describe how he admitted bringing more loaded magazines to the campus, keeping them hidden in his backpack until beginning his assault. Then, as students began to flee, he discarded the weapon and ammunition, along with his vest, to blend in with the crowd.

The police say they later found the discarded material in a manner that was “consistent with Cruz’s version of events”.

Cruz was arrested by a police officer after leaving the campus and stopping to buy food and drink.

A police arrest report claims Nikolas Cruz has admitted to the killings

Warnings not heeded?

More details have been emerging about the suspect’s background amid suggestions that the authorities may have missed advance signals about the atrocity.

The FBI is reviewing its handling of a warning by a YouTube video blogger who says he contacted the bureau last September over a comment by a user with the suspect’s name.

“The comment simply said ‘I am going to be a professional killer’,” said FBI special agent in Miami, Robert Lasky. Investigators carried out review checks, he added, but were “unable to identify the person who actually made the comment”.

The police chief in charge of the investigation in Florida, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, has called for more powers to detain people for psychiatric evaluation over violent and threatening social media posts.

Teachers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, from which the suspect was expelled, are said to have been warned by school authorities about Cruz’s behaviour.

A federal law enforcement official has said the AR-15 rifle used in the assault was purchased legally. Cruz’s family lawyer has said the teenager owned one. Classmates and neighbours have described the suspect's erratic behaviour, which include reports that the teenager had a habit of shooting animals.

Fourteen students and three staff members died in the attack on Wednesday. Portraits of those who were killed have been emerging as the enormity of the human tragedy left behind by the shooting spree begins to become clear.

There is also anger over the lack of gun controls and questions among parents over the adequacy of campus security, amid a renewed debate about America’s epidemic of violence in its schools.

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