Tipster’s Warning to F.B.I. on Florida Shooting Suspect: ‘I Know He’s Going to Explode’


A woman who knew the teenager accused of shooting 17 people to death at a Florida high school last week told the F.B.I. last month that Nikolas Cruz possessed an arsenal of weapons and ammunition, and she worried he might be “getting into a school and just shooting the place up.”

“I know he’s going to explode,” the woman said in a call to the F.B.I.’s tip hotline on Jan. 5, according to a transcript of the call obtained by The New York Times. (Read the transcript)

The acting F.B.I. deputy director, David L. Bowdich, briefed congressional staff members about the call on Friday and acknowledged the F.B.I.’s failure to investigate the tip, according to a federal official. The details of the call were first reported Friday by The Wall Street Journal.

The tip came in more than a month before the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. It was the clearest warning sign ignored by the authorities that Mr. Cruz, who had a long history of troubling behavior, represented a dangerous threat to others.

Over the course of the call, which lasted more than 13 minutes, the tipster warned the F.B.I. that Mr. Cruz had been adrift since his mother’s death in November. The tipster provided four Instagram accounts for Mr. Cruz, which she said showed photos of sliced up animals and the firearms he had amassed. The caller, whose name was redacted on the transcript, said Mr. Cruz had used money from a life insurance policy after his mother’s death to purchase the weapons.

“If you go onto his Instagram pages, you’ll see all the guns,” the woman said.

Before calling the F.B.I., the woman telephoned law enforcement officials in Parkland, worried that Mr. Cruz might kill himself. But she didn’t hear back from them and became increasingly alarmed after she said Mr. Cruz posted online that “he wants to kill people.”

The Broward County sheriff’s office, which staffs the Parkland police station, received a call in November from a caller raising similar concerns about Mr. Cruz: that he was collecting guns and knives, might kill himself and “could be a school shooter in the making.” The caller was in Massachusetts, the sheriff’s office said in a summary of the call released on Thursday.

Two deputies have been placed on restricted duty while the office investigates how two calls about Mr. Cruz — the one in November and an earlier one in 2016 — were mishandled.

Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting from Washington.


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