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US to pay victims for FBI failure to prevent Parkland school shooting

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Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse on October 20, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Cruz pleaded guilty to all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Florida./AFP
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Nov 24, 2021 - 12:15 AM

MIAMI, UNITED STATES — The US Justice Department will compensate the families of the victims on the 2018 massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida who accused the FBI of ignoring reports on the threat from the shooter, attorneys said Tuesday.

US media said the department has agreed to pay close to $130 million to settle the claims from 40 victims in the “historic” settlement over the deadliest high school shooting in US history.

Seventeen students and faculty were killed and another 17 injured when 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 assault rifle on February 14, 2018.

Expelled from school for disciplinary reasons, Cruz was known to be fixated by firearms — and had reportedly been identified as a potential threat to his classmates.

Cruz bought the weapon legally, despite having been in local records as having a history of mental health problems.

Victims’ families sued the FBI and the Justice Department, saying the FBI had specific tips that Cruz had exhibited increasingly violent conduct, collected guns and ammunition, and declared a desire to kill people and specifically to carry out a school shooting, according to a statement from Kristina Infante, lead counsel for the relatives.

One of those tips, the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier admitted, was of a message Cruz posted on YouTube, vowing: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”

If the FBI had transmitted that information to its Miami field office, it would have been investigated, the plaintiffs argued.

“Although the financial details of the agreement are presently confidential, it is an historic settlement and the culmination of the Parkland families’ long and arduous efforts toward truth and accountability,” the statement said.

The shooting stunned the country and sparked new efforts, led by students from the school itself, for tougher gun controls — although the polarized US Congress has yet to enact meaningful gun reform.

In October Cruz, now 23, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of premeditated murder.

He is awaiting sentencing and prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.

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