In a stunning admission, the FBI announced Friday that a person close to Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter, contacted the department on Jan. 5 to report concerns about Cruz’s disturbing behavior. That’s six weeks ago. Yet the Bureau did absolutely nothing with the information. It was an unforgivable lapse. And it became a deadly one.

Quickly, Florida Gov. Rick Scott called on FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign. Yes, the governor is carrying water for his pal President Donald Trump, jumping on the Bureau, and Wray, at the very time other Republicans, too, are badmouthing it, hoping to derail its role in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s relations with Russia. Still, someone should lose a job over this one.

By admitting its error before it was discovered by outsiders, the FBI came clean and said it did not appropriately follow established protocols with the tip to its public line. Even more damning, agents didn’t bother to pass on the information to the Miami Field Office.

There’s no way to credibly say, “Oh, we’ll do better next time.”

The FBI also was warned in September about a school shooting threat from a YouTube user with Cruz’s name, according to a Mississippi video blogger. Ben Bennight said he reported the post to the FBI. It said: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” and it came from a user named Nikolas Cruz.

Bennight said FBI agents talked to him, but the agency said it could not track down the owner of the social media handle. Yet, Cruz flaunted his social-media persona; he definitely didn’t hide it.

It’s an infuriating act of negligence by a government agency charged with protecting Americans, and it came at such a painful human cost.

If the Bureau had just dug a little further, it would have found that local law enforcement responded to Cruz’s former family home on 39 occasions over a seven-year period. Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said it wasn’t immediately clear why the officers had been called to the house.

Israel also defended the FBI. “Make no mistake about it America,” Israel said at a news conference. “The only person responsible is the shooter himself.”

That’s true, and in a country where such threats and risks and perils seem endless, there’s no telling how often the FBI has gotten it right. We have no doubt that agents’ hard work has thwarted domestic attacks, bombings, shootings and other mayhem planned by the sick and angry among us.

The regretful words “If only” haunt this tragedy. If only Cruz had received proper mental health treatment. If only the teenager couldn’t legally buy semi-automatic weapons. Now, we are left with one more: If only the FBI had done its job.

Editorial by the Miami Herald

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