Quantcast
Connect with us

Florida school massacre suspect was on authorities’ radar in 2016: media

Published

on

A teenager accused of fatally shooting 17 people at a Florida high school was investigated by police and state officials as far back as 2016 after slashing his arm in a social media video, and saying he wanted to buy a gun, but authorities determined he was receiving sufficient support, newspapers said on Saturday.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, is charged with committing multiple murders on Wednesday at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. More than a dozen people also were wounded in the deadliest shooting at a U.S. high school.

ADVERTISEMENT

The charges can bring the death penalty, but prosecutors have not yet said if they will seek capital punishment. Days after the killings, a somber series of vigils and funerals were being held in and around Parkland, a Fort Lauderdale suburb of about 32,000 people.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel first reported that a video of Cruz cutting his arm posted to the social media network Snapchat in September 2016 raised concerns among law enforcement and at the Florida Department of Children and Families.

“Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun. It is unknown what he is buying the gun for,” said a report written by department officials after investigators interviewed the teenager, the Sun Sentinel said.

The newspaper reported investigators ultimately decided that Cruz, then 18, was receiving enough support from mental health professionals and from his school, and any risk in his case was low.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) has asked a court to release the records for transparency, adding it has reviewed the circumstances surrounding the 2016 case.

“Mental health services and supports were in place when this investigation closed,” DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said in a statement.

The long-simmering U.S. debate about gun rights played out on Saturday at events in the area.

ADVERTISEMENT

Hundreds of people attended a rally in Fort Lauderdale where students from the school demanded new gun control measures to tighten what they saw as easy access to firearms in the state. They also accused some politicians of being more concerned about protecting the firearms lobby than children.

“Because of these (current) gun laws, people that I know, people that I love, have died,” Delaney Tarr, a senior at the school, told the rally.

At a nearby gunshow, attendees said new laws would not have prevented the massacre, adding gun rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

ADVERTISEMENT

FBI UNDER PRESSURE

The Federal Bureau of Investigation admitted on Friday that it failed to investigate a warning this year that Cruz possessed a gun and the desire to kill.

A person described as close to Cruz called an FBI tip line on Jan. 5 to report concerns about him, according to the FBI. That information was not forwarded to the FBI’s Miami office, in what agency officials called a breakdown in protocol.

ADVERTISEMENT

The disclosure spread angry disbelief among Parkland residents and prompted Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott to call for FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a review of FBI procedures following the shooting, in which 14 students and three school staff members died.

U.S. President Donald Trump called local politicians and the school’s principal from his Mar-a-Lago, Florida, resort on Saturday to express condolences, offer support and receive updates, a White House spokeswoman said. On Friday, he visited shooting survivors and first responders.

He and some other Republican political leaders have said mental illness prompted the massacre. Cruz had been expelled from the high school for undisclosed disciplinary reasons and former classmates described him as an outcast and troublemaker with a fascination for weaponry.

ADVERTISEMENT

As more details emerged on the suspect, CNN reported that Cruz posted disparaging comments about Jews, African Americans and gays in a private chat group on the social media network Instagram.

“I think I am going to kill people,” Cruz wrote in the group, according to CNN, which also quoted an unnamed law enforcement source as saying the suspect bought at least five guns in the past year.

Cruz’s attorneys at the Broward County Public Defender’s Office did not return requests for comment on that or the 2016 report by Florida’s Department of Children and Families.

“This kid exhibited every single known red flag, from killing animals to having a cache of weapons to disruptive behavior to saying he wanted to be a school shooter,” the county’s public defender, Howard Finkelstein, told the New York Times. The paper said it also received a copy of the report.

ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking on Saturday at an event in Dallas, Texas, Vice President Mike Pence said Trump was making the safety of the nation’s schools a top priority.

“We will get to the bottom of what happened,” Pence said, adding the administration would take “a renewed look at giving law enforcement and local authorities the tools they need to deal with individuals struggling with dangerous mental illness.”

(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Parkland, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Jeff Mason in West Palm Beach, and Lesley Wroughton in Washington; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott and Daniel Wallis)


By Katanga Johnson and Zachary Fagenson


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

White House tells Corey Lewandowski to keep his mouth shut when appearing before Congress

Published

on

Corey Lewandowski is slated to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, but President Donald Trump's White House is telling the possible Senate hopeful to keep his mouth shut.

Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey tweeted about the instruction Monday, less than 24 hours before Lewandowski is scheduled to be sworn in.

"White House has instructed Corey Lewandowski not to testify about his conversations with POTUS or other White House officials that are not already delineated in Mueller report, per aide familiar with strategy. He testifies tomorrow," Dawsey tweeted.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump’s California donors are freaking out about the social consequences of attending his fundraisers: report

Published

on

President Donald Trump has generated a huge amount of election campaign money from fundraisers in California — a state where he is underwater 30 points and an epicenter of legal and legislative opposition to his agenda.

Fundraisers in California are incredibly lucrative for the president, as the state is home to a number of tech and entertainment millionaires. But its heavily liberal lean has many of his donors scared of social consequences for their support — and according to Politico, that fear is leading the Trump campaign to cloak these events in secrecy.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Damage control: Eugene Robinson explains why beating Trump won’t be the next president’s greatest challenge

Published

on

Democrats have spent months fighting over the tiniest details of each policy during the handful of Democratic debates and forums. While they may agree on 98 percent of the policies, it's the two percent that campaigns are zeroing-in on. The reality, however, is that few if any of the policies or campaign promises will ever come to fruition. As Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson explained in his latest column, the greatest challenge of any Democratic leader post-Trump will be fixing the things the president broke.

In his Monday column, Robinson demanded to know not just how Democrats plan to actually beat Trump, but how they'll repair the damage he'll leave. He doesn't doubt Democrats can accomplish the goal of kicking the president out of the White House, but the aftermath is another matter.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image