The Justice Department has reached a multi-million dollar settlement with families of the victims and survivors of the 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
The settlement was reached over the failure of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate and act on two tips that it had received about the gunman that could have potentially prevented the crime from happening.
Attorneys for 16 families out of the 17 killed at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and those who were injured said in a joint court filing on Monday that they had reached a monetary agreement to settle the issue.
The attorneys did not reveal the settlement value, saying the details were confidential. But a source familiar with the deal told the Associated Press that the US government will pay the families $127.5m (£95.2m) overall.
“It has been an honour to represent the Parkland families who, through their immeasurable grief, have devoted themselves to making the world a safer place,” Kristina Infante, the lead attorney for the families, said in a statement.
“Although no resolution could ever restore what the Parkland families lost, this settlement marks an important step toward justice.”
Gunman Nikolas Cruz, 23, had opened fire at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — where he was earlier expelled from — killing 17 people and wounding 17 more on 14 February 2018.
More than a month before the shooting, one of the tips detailed how Cruz was sharing pictures on Instagram about storing weapons and ammunition.
“I know he’s going to explode,” a woman had said on the FBI’s tip line. She had feared Cruz “was going to slip into a school and start shooting the place up.”
Another tip received by the agency involved a YouTube comment from someone using the name “nikolas cruz” who said they were going to “be a professional school shooter” in September 2017, months before the shooting occurred.
Two days after the shooting, the FBI acknowledged that it had received tips about the gunman but did not act on them.
Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow died in the shooting, praised the FBI for accepting its responsibility for not investigating the tip, but added that nothing can replace his daughter. “The FBI has made changes to make sure this never happens again,” Mr Pollack said.
Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter Gina died in the shooting, said no settlement will “replace my bright, bubbly and beautiful daughter.” He said that while other families celebrate Thanksgiving this week, Gina’s chair will remain empty.
Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder last month. He will go on trial early next year where the jury will decide if he will receive a death sentence or life imprisonment.
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