The U.S. Senate will hold its first hearing to determine how federal agencies like the FBI missed signs that accused killer Nikolas Cruz was capable of carrying out the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Ia., announced Thursday that his committee, which has oversight over the FBI, will hold a hearing on March 14 over the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“The great tragedy of the Parkland shooting is that it was preventable,” Grassley said at a hearing on Thursday. “The FBI and local law enforcement failed to act on credible tips that should have neutralized the killer and gotten him help.”
Despite warnings and the FBI’s awareness of a September 2017 tip labeling Cruz as a potential “school shooter,” FBI officials said its call center intake specialist and a supervisor decided not to take further investigative action after getting a call in January, according to Grassley’s office. As a result, the FBI did not open a counterterrorism inquiry or contact local law enforcement officials.
The hearing has not been officially scheduled on the committee’s website yet, and guests haven’t been announced, though agency heads like FBI Director Christopher Wray typically appear at the televised question-and-answer sessions with senators from both parties.
“It has been clear from these briefings that the systems designed to prevent troubled individuals like the Parkland shooter from engaging in violent acts failed miserably,” Grassley said. “Government must be held accountable for its mistakes. It is also clear that private companies can do more to prevent future mass shootings by identifying threatening content and warning law enforcement officials.”
Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson are not part of the Judiciary Committee, though Rubio is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which also conducts oversight on agencies like the FBI.
Miami Herald reporter Sarah Blaskey and McClatchy DC reporter Greg Gordon contributed to this report.