The FBI received two tips about Nikolas Cruz, the self-confessed gunman in the Feb. 14 killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., but did not act on them.
Here's what happened:
First tip: Sept. 24, 2017
Ben Bennight, a bail bondsman at AFAB Bail Bonds in D'Iberville, Miss., saw a message on his YouTube channel “BenTheBondsman” from a commenter identifying himself as “nikolas cruz” that read:
"Im going to be a professional school shooter"
Bennight emailed a screenshot of the comment to the FBI.
FBI response (Feb. 15)
Special Agent Rob Lasky, special agent in charge of Miami Division:
“In 2017, the FBI received information about a comment made on a YouTube channel. No other information was included with that comment which would indicate a time, location or the true identity of the person who made the comment. The FBI conducted database reviews, checks, but was unable to further identify the person who actually made the comment.”
Second tip: Jan. 5, 2018
An anonymous person called the FBI’s Public Access Line, located in Clarksburg, W.Va., to warn about Cruz. The person cited concerns about:
"Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting."
FBI response (Feb. 16)
The FBI said it did not follow established protocols to follow up.
"Under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life," the FBI said.
"The information was not provided to the Miami Field Office, and no further investigation was conducted at that time," the FBI statement said.
The Justice Department has ordered a review.
How the FBI’s Tip Line works
The online tip line was established after the Sept. 11 attacks. It receives about 100 “actionable” tips every day.
1) Those submitting online tips to the bureau fill out an online form and submit it. Tips are accepted for crimes, intelligence-related matters and counterterrorism.
2) The form is transmitted to the FBI’s Public Access Center Unit at the bureau’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
3) Each tip is reviewed by at least two individuals at every step of the vetting process, the FBI says.
4) Analysts examine all tips for credibility. Additional investigation is assigned if a tip is found to have merit.
5) After a supervisor reviews a tip with merit, it’s entered into the FBI’s eGuardian system, which tracks suspect incidents.
6) Vetted tips are relayed to field agents.
Phoned-in tips are routed to the FBI’s tip center in Clarksburg, W.Va. Tips are assessed and credible ones are forwarded to field offices.
The tip center has more than 150 employees who handled more than 2,100 tips each day in 2017, or about 766,888 calls for the year.
Employees gather information to aid investigations. They learn how to listen and communicate in both classroom training and on-the-job mentoring.
Other red flags for Cruz
Law enforcement: Broward County sheriff's deputies were called out to the Cruz home about 30 times over the past seven years, according to news reports.
School officials: Other sources reported that school officials used email to warn teachers of Cruz's behavior. One teacher said they were told that Cruz should not be allowed on the school campus with a backpack. Cruz was expelled from Stoneman Douglas High in 2017.
Social workers: An investigator with Florida’s Department of Children and Families learned Cruz was cutting himself in late 2016 after breaking up with his girlfriend. The investigator was “concerned about (Cruz's) talk about wanting to purchase a gun and feeling depressed,” according to the agency’s investigation records.
Health workers: School officials asked Henderson Behavioral Health in Broward County to investigate reports of Cruz had cutting himself and fighting with another student. According to the DCF on Oct. 7, 2016, a school official reported that Henderson had "determined that (Cruz) was not at risk to harm himself or others."
Sources: FBI; Naples Daily News (Fla.); Associated Press; USA TODAY research