Republican lawmakers say that the FBI admitted to major mistakes in a Congressional briefing held this week, in failing to follow up on a series of reports about the Parkland, Florida school shooter made to their national hotline.
According to The Hill, House Republicans were briefed on the FBI's response, and specifically on the agency's abandonment of protocol in handling warnings about the teenaged attacker. The FBI received at least one tip classified as "very credible," back in January of 2018, suggesting that the shooter was well-armed, and had spoken repeatedly about conducting a mass shooting.
Acting FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich told lawmakers, according to a statement released late Wednesday by Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), that the tip, phoned into the FBI's national hotline, contained enough specific information that it should have triggered an FBI investigation, or at least a site visit to the shooter's home.
The tip, Bowdich said, "should have been assessed as a potential threat to life," but the FBI failed to abide by their own written policy and submit the tip to their Miami field office for a follow-up investigation.
Part of the problem, Bowdich said, was that while the January tip was enough to trigger warning bells all on its own, agents also failed to connect that phone call to other tips they received that listed the same name. Several YouTube video bloggers reported the shooter — then a follower of law enforcement and weapons blogs — to federal law enforcement after the shooter left threatening comments on their videos, including that he was "going to be a professional school shooter."
The shooter was arraigned in court on Wednesday on 17 counts of first degree murder. Further charges are likely forthcoming. The FBI told lawmakers that it is conducting an informal, internal investigation into how its operation went wrong.