Families of Parkland shooting victims settle with U.S. over FBI’s failure to stop gunman

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Families of Parkland shooting victims settle with U.S. over FBI’s failure to stop gunman

The Justice Department reached a tentative agreement Monday to settle lawsuits filed by families of the victims of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead in 2018, according to a federal court filing.

The families claimed that the FBI failed to follow up on tip about the gunman. 

“The parties are presently working to finalize additional details before submission for final approval by the appropriate Department of Justice official,” a notice filed in U.S. District Court in Florida said.

According to the filing, once the details are finalized and the settlement is approved, the families will ask the court to dismiss the cases.

In the days after the incident Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — one of the deadliest school shootings in recent U.S. history — the FBI revealed that someone close to the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had called an agency tip line about him.

The person described Cruz’s “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts,” the agency said at the time.

The caller also warned that Cruz was potentially capable of carrying out a school shooting.

The tip wasn’t assessed as a “potential threat to life” or forwarded to the FBI’s field office in Miami, about 40 miles south of Parkland, as it should have been, the agency said.

The confidential agreement reached Monday applies to families of 16 of the people who were killed, The Associated Press reported. One family chose not to sue.

In a statement obtained by the AP, the families’ lead lawyer, Kristina Infante, said it had “been an honor to represent the Parkland families who, through their immeasurable grief, have devoted themselves to making the world a safer place.”

“Although no resolution could ever restore what the Parkland families lost, this settlement marks an important step toward justice,” she said.

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty last month to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.

In a statement, he apologized for his crimes, saying they bring him nightmares daily. Jury selection for his sentencing is scheduled to begin Jan. 4.

CORRECTION (Nov. 22, 2021, 8:10 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the date of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It was Feb. 14, 2018, not Feb. 16.

Pete Williams is an NBC News correspondent who covers the Justice Department and the Supreme Court, based in Washington.

Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News based in California.

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