The FBI just dropped the ball, as it has admitted. Mistakes happen, but this would be easier to accept if the bureau hadn’t ignored the Fort Lauderdale airport shooter’s ravings and dismissed reports that Orlando’s Pulse nightclub mass killer was a jihadist. The upshot is that in all three of Florida’s recent mass shootings, the killer had come to the FBI’s attention before his rampage.
For sheer incompetence, it’s hard to outdo the Florida Department of Children and Families, which opened a file on the Parkland school shooter in late 2016 after the depressed young man began cutting himself and posting disturbing images on social media. The agency’s conclusion? That he was “not a risk to harm himself or others.”
The Broward Sheriff’s Office resorted to its own bureaucratic gobbledygook, telling reporters that none of his behavior “appeared arrestable under Florida law.” This is false. It’s not legal in Florida to hold a gun to your mother’s head, or menace the family that took you in, or threaten to shoot up a school. Authorities could also have pursued an involuntary commitment to a mental facility under Florida’s “Baker Act,” which might have given him the psychological treatment he needed and seems to crave. It also might have made him ineligible to legally purchase firearms.