Students from Leadership and Public Service High School hold up signs during a protest in New York City Wednesday as part of the National School Walk Out event. During the mass protest, federal officials testified in the Senate about school safety. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
March 14 (UPI) -- The acting deputy chief of the FBI told U.S. senators at a hearing Wednesday that errors were made when the bureau first received tips about the man who would later kill 17 people at a Florida high school.
The Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday held the first of a three-panel hearing focusing on school safety and mistakes made by federal and local law enforcement concerning the Feb. 14 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
The FBI has said it had previously received tips about gunman Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student of the school.
"We made mistakes here, no question about that," Acting Deputy Director David Bowditch told the committee. "That said, even had we done everything right I'm not sure we could have stopped this act, but it would have been nice to try. It sure would have been nice for our investigator to sit down in front of Mr. Cruz and actually have that discussion."
The FBI said it received a tip in January at its call center about Cruz. The caller provided information about Cruz's gun ownership, a "desire to kill people," erratic behavior, and "disturbing" social media posts," NPR reported Wednesday.
In written testimony to the committee, Bowditch said the FBI also got an email warning in September saying someone with Cruz's name posted plans to be "a professional school shooter" on his YouTube page.
When asked by committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, if the FBI warned local law enforcement about the tips, Bowditch said no.
"I don't know why the call taker did not do so. She conferred with her supervisor and made some sort of a presentation about what was contained in that call...The call was very explicit," he said. "However, they made a decision to close it, no lead value and no call was made to the local jurisdiction."
Also testifying Wednesday were Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; parent Ryan Petty, whose daughter died in the Parkland shooting; Katherine Posada, a teacher at the school, and other federal officials.
The committee met as students at 3,100 schools across the United States walked out of classes in a mass show of solidarity with those at the Parkland high school, on the one-month anniversary of the shooting.
Demonstrators surrounded the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday during the judiciary panel's hearing on the subject.