The agency’s call center in Clarksburg, W.Va., should be accountable for “at least professional negligence and at worst incompetence,” says a former bureau official.
Many former FBI agents and law enforcement experts tell McClatchy Newspapers that the vaunted federal agency failed at basic detective work and in multiple ways in bungling ominous tips about Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz. The most alarming warning didn’t just suggest Cruz was a likely school shooter but that he could be influenced by the Islamic terror group ISIS, both glaring red flags for national security. A specialist and supervisor at the FBI’s civilian call center in West Virginia didn’t pass the warning on to agents in South Florida. At the very least, they might have coordinated with Broward County school and law enforcement officials to ensure that an officer knocked on the troubled 19-year-old’s door and possibly stopped him from killing 17 people.
“Oh my God!” Alfred LaManna, a retired FBI agent, told the Miami Herald after reviewing a transcript of the tipster’s January call.“What gets me more than anything else … is the mere mention of ISIS and the fact that the tipster alleges his dress in one instance (is) as a potential ISIS recruit,” said LaManna. “This, alone, should have sent up a red flag to check the guy out.” Christopher Swecker, a former FBI Criminal Division chief, said the agency’s call center in Clarksburg, W.Va., should be accountable for “at least professional negligence and at worst incompetence.” Another retired agent, Gerard Forrester, said, “If I was in Miami and received this tip, I would have jumped all over it. What struck me was the insistence of the complainant that something bad is going to happen…” South Florida lawyers told the Herald that if county deputies had investigated Cruz, they could have arrested him for Instagram and YouTube posts threatening to kill classmates and shoot up the school in 2016 and 2017 while he was a student.