Justice Department settles with families of Parkland shooting victims

Flowers outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
(Image credit: Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images)

The Department of Justice has reached a settlement with survivors and families of victims of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The lawsuit was filed against the FBI over the agency's failure to properly investigate tips about the gunman, former student Nikolas Cruz.

In court documents, the Justice Department said it is finalizing the deal, and did not state the settlement amount. Two people familiar with the matter told The New York Times the DOJ will likely pay about $130 million to 40 survivors and families, but that number could change.

Cruz shot and killed 17 people and injured 17 others on Feb. 14, 2018. Five months before the shooting, a Mississippi bail bondsman notified the FBI about a comment left on his YouTube page by a user named "nikolas cruz" who said he planned to be "a professional school shooter." Two FBI agents interviewed the bail bondsman, and after they determined there wasn't sufficient information to link the comment to a specific person, the inquiry was closed.

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The FBI received a second tip about Cruz six weeks prior to the shooting. A woman who said she was a family friend told the FBI that Cruz posted on Instagram that he was gathering weapons and ammunition. "I know he's going to explode," the woman said, adding that she was afraid Cruz "was going to slip into a school and start shooting the place up."

Two days after the shooting, the FBI revealed it received tips about Cruz, but did not investigate them in accordance to protocols, leading to 40 individuals and families suing the agency for negligence. Cruz, now 23, pleaded guilty last month to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. Next year, a jury will decide whether Cruz will serve life in prison or receive the death penalty.

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