Families of Parkland School Massacre Victims Settle With FBI Over Its Failure to Stop Gunman

The families of 16 out of the 17 killed and wounded in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school settled their lawsuit against the federal government Monday, The Associated Press reported.

The announcement came from attorneys for the families suing the government over what they said was the FBI's inaction and failure to prevent the shooting. One family of the 17 people killed decided not to sue.

Just over a month before the shooting, a call was placed to the FBI tip line with the information that Nikolas Cruz, a former student at the school, had purchased guns and was going to "slip into a school and start shooting the place up" and that the caller knew Cruz was "going to explode."

However, the FBI's South Florida office was never informed of that call, so Cruz was never investigated. Cruz was expelled from the school about a year before the call because of emotional and mental problems.

In October, Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder, leaving a jury to decide whether he receives life in prison or a death sentence in a trial set to begin in January.

"Today we saw a cold and calculating killer confess to the murder of my daughter Gina and 16 other innocent victims at their school," Tony Montalto told the AP following the guilty plea. His daughter was 14 and sitting outside her classroom when Cruz shot her multiple times. "His guilty pleas are the first step in the judicial process but there is no change for my family. Our bright, beautiful, and beloved daughter Gina is gone while her killer still enjoys the blessing of life in prison."

For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Nikolas Cruz Shooting
Law enforcement officers block off the entrance to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Feb. 15, 2018 in Parkland, Fla., following a deadly shooting at the school. The families of most of those killed in the 2018 Florida high school massacre have settled their lawsuit against the federal government. Sixteen of the 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland had sued over the FBI’s failure to stop the gunman even though it had received information he intended to attack. The settlement reached Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 is confidential. Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press File

Attorneys said the settlement's details are confidential, but a person familiar with the deal said the government will pay the families $127.5 million overall. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the amount.

"It has been an honor to represent the Parkland families who, through their immeasurable grief, have devoted themselves to making the world a safer place," their lead attorney, Kristina Infante, said in a statement. "Although no resolution could ever restore what the Parkland families lost, this settlement marks an important step toward justice."

Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow died in the shooting, commended the FBI for accepting responsibility for its inaction, comparing it to the Broward County school district and sheriff's office, the school security staff and the psychologists who treated the shooter. He believes they all failed to stop the shooter and have ducked responsibility.

"The FBI has made changes to make sure this never happens again," Pollack said.
Montalto 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.

Paul David Stern, the lead attorney defending the government, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Nikolas Cruz Shooting
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz crosses the courtroom in handcuffs at the Broward County Courthouse after being sentenced on four criminal counts stemming from his attack on a Broward County jail guard in November 2018, on October 20, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Families of 16 of the 17 people killed in Cruz's shooting reached a settlement in their lawsuit with the federal government Monday. Amy Beth Bennett/Getty Images