Parkland: As families began burying their dead, authorities questioned whether they could have prevented the attack on a South Florida high school where a gunman took the lives of 14 students, the athletic director, a coach and a geography teacher.
At funerals and in the streets of Parkland, a suburb on the edge of the Everglades, anger bubbled over at the senselessness of the shooting and at the widespread availability of guns. A rally to support gun-safety legislation was scheduled for Saturday at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.
During a funeral Friday for 18-year-old Meadow Pollack, her father looked down at his daughters plain pine coffin and screamed in anguish as Gov. Rick Scott and 1,000 others sat in Temple Kol Tikvah.
“You killed my kid!” Andrew Pollack yelled, referring to Nikolas Cruz, who is accused of gunning down Meadow and 16 others. “My kid is dead. It goes through my head all day and all night. I keep hearing it. This is just unimaginable that I will never see my princess again.” He briefly paused as mourners, punched by the rawness of his words, began to wail.
“I wasn’t able to do anything about it.
I have always been able to protect my family,” he said.
“Our kids should be safe.” Not long after that funeral, the FBI said it received a tip last month that Cruz had a “desire to kill” and access to guns and could be plotting an attack, but agents failed to investigate. The governor called for the FBI director to resign.
A person who was close to Cruz called the FBI’s tip line on January 5 and provided information about Cruz’s weapons and his erratic behaviour, including his disturbing social media posts. The caller was concerned that Cruz could attack a school.
In a statement, the agency acknowledged that the tip should have been shared with the FBI’s Miami office and investigated, but it was not. The startling admission came as the agency was already facing criticism for its treatment of a tip about a YouTube comment posted last year.
The comment posted by a “Nikolas Cruz” said, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” The FBI investigated the remark but did not determine who made it.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the shooting that killed 17 people on Wednesday was a “tragic consequence” of the FBI’s missteps and ordered a review of the Justice Departments processes. He said its now clear that the nations premier law enforcement agency missed warning signs.
In more evidence that there had been signs of trouble with Cruz, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said his office had received more than 20 calls about him in the past few years. Cruz was being held without bail at the Broward County Jail on 17 counts of first-degree murder.
Authorities have not described any specific motive, except to say that Cruz had been kicked out of the high school, which has about 3,000 students and serves an affluent suburb where the median home price is nearly USD 600,000.
Students who knew him described a volatile teenager whose strange behaviour had caused others to end friendships.