Government Settles for $127.5M With Families of School Shooting Victims

March 18, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
Government Settles for $127.5M With Families of School Shooting Victims
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government agreed this week to pay $127.5 million to families of students killed by a gunman in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

It was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

The families argued in a lawsuit that the FBI ignored warnings that could have helped police stop Nikolas Cruz from killing 17 students and injuring another 17.

A Justice Department statement said the settlement does not mean the government admits wrongdoing.


“This settlement resolves all of the cases for $127.5 million,” the statement said.

Tipsters had told the FBI Cruz was amassing guns and ammunition. One of them said he was “going to explode.”

On Feb. 14, 2018, Cruz, a former student, walked into the high school armed with a rifle and ammunition concealed in a rifle bag. He opened fire with his semi-automatic weapon as he walked from room to room.

The 19-year-old fled the scene on foot while blending in with other fleeing students. He was arrested about an hour later in nearby Coral Springs.

In October 2021, Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. He is awaiting sentencing next month. 


The shooting led to more calls for gun control by advocacy groups. It also prompted the Florida Legislature to pass a law that allowed for the arming of teachers after screening and training as well as the hiring of “school resource officers” to act as security guards.

The lawsuit that alleged negligence by the FBI and local police was based on numerous warnings they received about Cruz before the shootings.

A public records request by media outlet CNN showed 45 calls listed on a sheriff’s log that warned about Cruz, his brother or their family home. A Feb. 5, 2016, tipster’s call said Cruz was threatening to shoot up his former high school.

On Sept. 24, 2017, a person with the username “nikolas cruz” posted a comment on a YouTube video that said, “Im [sic] going to be a professional school shooter.”

A person who saw the posting reported it to the FBI, which was unable to track down the source of the comment.

On Jan. 5, 2018, the FBI received a tip on its Public Access Line from someone who said he knew Cruz. The FBI released a statement less than two months after the shooting that summarized the tip.

“The caller provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,” the FBI reported.


The FBI admitted the information was not properly forwarded to its Miami Field Office for follow-up.

Tom can be reached at [email protected]

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