The United States Department of Justice announced on Wednesday March 16 that it would pay 127.5 million dollars (115 million euros) to victims of the February 14, 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in as part of an agreement that resolves 40 complaints related to alleged failings by the federal police before the tragedy. However, this agreement “is not an admission of guilt of the United States”the ministry said in a statement, without giving further details.
On February 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle at Marjory-Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, from which he had been expelled the previous year. He had seventeen dead (fourteen students and three high school staff members) and fifteen injured, in what was one of the worst school massacres in the United States. In October, he pleaded guilty and a jury will determine his sentence after a trial in April. Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty.
Along with the criminal case, several families of victims and survivors had filed a civil complaint against the United States, accusing the FBI of not having followed two “pipes” informing him of the dangerousness of the young man. Forty days before the tragedy, a woman who knew him had called the federal police to say that he was ready “to explode”. The “go sneak into a school and start shooting”she had feared.
“The FBI had done nothing” of this information, according to their complaint. “Because of his negligence, Cruz was able to kill seventeen students and teachers”added the plaintiffs in their claim for damages.
Five months before the events, the owner of a YouTube channel had also reported a comment left under one of his videos in which a user by the name of Nikolas cruz claimed that he would become “a professional school shooter”. FBI agents had questioned the owner of the chain without establishing a link with Mr. Cruz. Despite a heavy psychiatric history, the young man had also been able to legally buy an assault rifle.
The drama of Parkland had aroused immense emotion throughout the United States, and a historic mobilization had been led by several young survivors and the parents of victims. It culminated on March 24, 2018 when the “March for Our Lives” brought together 1.5 million people across the country, the largest national demonstration for better control of firearms in the entire history of the United States. , suggesting to some the possibility of legislative change.
This has not happened, and on the contrary firearms sales have increased in recent years in the United States, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mass killings remain a scourge in the country, but blockages in Congress, under the influence of the arms lobby, make any major progress on the subject unlikely.