Monday 23 July 2018

Calls for FBI chief to quit over massacre

A student places a candle with other tributes during a vigil after Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people. Photo: Reuters. Photo: Jonathan Drake/Reuters
A student places a candle with other tributes during a vigil after Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people. Photo: Reuters. Photo: Jonathan Drake/Reuters

Jeremy Sipilot

Florida governor Rick Scott has called on FBI director Christopher Wray to resign after learning that the bureau failed to investigate a tip-off that the Florida school suspect could be planning an attack.

Mr Scott sharply criticised the federal law enforcement agency, saying in a statement that the "FBI's failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable".

The FBI acknowledged it failed to act on a tip-off to its hotline that Nikolas Cruz had a "desire to kill".

In a statement, Mr Scott said that "an apology will never bring these 17 Floridians back to life or comfort the families who are in pain".

Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

US senator Marco Rubio also criticised the FBI, saying it was "inexcusable" the bureau did not follow protocols. He said that Congress should launch its own investigations into what happened.

It also emerged last night that the family of victim Cara Loughran (14) hails from the Co Antrim village of Toomebridge. Cara's brother Liam survived the attack.

It is understood Ms Loughran's grandmother still lives in the Northern Irish townland.

A family friend said last night that the entire local community had been affected by the horrifying rampage in Florida on St Valentine's Day.

Earlier, it emerged a person close to Cruz called the FBI's public tip-off line on January 5 and provided information about his guns and his erratic behaviour, including his expressed desire to kill people and his disturbing social media posts.

The caller was concerned that Cruz could attack a school.

The agency acknowledged the tip-off should have been shared with the FBI's Miami office and investigated, but it was not. Mr Wray said the agency was still reviewing what went wrong.

He said he was "committed to getting to the bottom of what happened" as well as assessing the way the FBI responds to information from the public.

"We have spoken with victims and families and deeply regret the additional pain this causes all those affected by this horrific tragedy," Mr Wray said.

The FBI was also notified about a comment on a YouTube video posted by a 'Nikolas Cruz' last year. It investigated the comment but did not determine who made it.

Cruz has been charged with killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, north of Miami, on Wednesday.

Also yesterday, mourners gathered for the first funeral for a shooting victim, packing the Star of David chapel to remember Alyssa Alhadeff (14).

From outside the chapel, other mourners strained to hear the voices chanting Jewish prayers and remembering the star football player as having "the strongest personality".

She was also remembered as a creative writer with a memorable smile.

Details of the attack have emerged, showing how the assailant moved through the school in just minutes before escaping with the same students he had targeted.

Cruz jumped out of an Uber car and walked towards building 12 of the school, carrying a black duffel bag and a black backpack.

He slipped into the building, entered a stairwell and took a rifle from his bag, authorities said. He shot into four rooms on the first floor - going back to spray bullets into two of the rooms a second time - then went upstairs and shot a single victim on the second floor.

He ran to the third floor, where according to the Broward County Sheriff's Office, three minutes passed before he dropped the rifle and backpack, ran back down the stairs and quickly blended in with panicked, fleeing students.

The shooting suspect excelled in an air-rifle marksmanship programme supported by a grant from the National Rifle Association Foundation. The NRA declined to comment. The foundation gave nearly $2.2m (€1.7m) to schools in 2016.

Irish Independent

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