Florida Community Mourns And Remembers 17 Killed In School Shooting
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
The FBI got a tip last month that the man accused of killing 17 people in a high school shooting on Wednesday might be planning an attack, and they never followed up. The FBI says someone left a message on the agency's tip line, but nobody forwarded the call to the local field office. On top of that, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says his office received 20 calls about the alleged shooter over the last two years. He says his office will now scrutinize each call.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
SCOTT ISRAEL: If we find out, like in any investigation, that one of our deputies or call takers could have done something better or was remiss, I'll handle it accordingly.
MCEVERS: Also today, families held the first two funerals for victims. NPR's Jeff Brady reports from Parkland, Fla.
JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: At the Parkland amphitheater, there's a shrine to the 17 people who were killed. News of the FBI announcement brought swift criticism from Evangeline Poulos.
EVANGELINE POULOS: These tips were called in. Somebody dropped the ball.
JESSICA STUCKEY: Even if they just investigated him, maybe it would have scared him into not doing it.
BRADY: Jessica Stuckey was here with her teenage daughter.
STUCKEY: Parents have to live with their children never coming home again because - 17 families that won't see their loved ones again. And it's frustrating that the FBI could know about this and be warned about it and not do anything.
BRADY: While Stuckey was angry, overall sadness was the dominant emotion here. All day, people streamed from the parking lot past the palm trees and carried flowers to the shrine. Emanuel Rubio is a senior at a nearby high school. He came with his mother to lay flowers in front of one of the white crosses.
EMANUEL RUBIO: We're at Martin Duque's memorial. He was a brother's friend. We played soccer. And we're just trying to get the flowers together for him.
BRADY: Rubio says even though his high school was not the shooter's target, he's not gone back to class yet.
RUBIO: I just don't like the vibe that there is in school. It's lonely. Everyone's sad. And I just don't want to be there.
BRADY: At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where the shooting took place, the superintendent tells NPR he's seeking money for a new building. He says it would be too traumatic for students to return there. Today the first funerals for the dead were held. Seventeen-year-old Celina Mara attended the funeral for Alyssa Alhadeff with her father. They couldn't follow much of the Jewish service. Still, they wanted to be there.
CELINA MARA: I knew her from my cousin 'cause my cousin was best friends with her. And she just had a quince Friday, so we all were in her courtship. So that's how I knew her.
BRADY: Mara attends another school. She was impressed by how many people attended the funeral.
MARA: I mean, she must have been, like, a really popular kid 'cause she has a lot of friends. She plays sports. She's a really good kid. I mean, everyone knows her by her smile. She's known for her smile.
BRADY: Nicole Cook also attended the funeral. The people who died are on her mind, but so, too, are the politics of gun control.
NICOLE COOK: She was a great young woman. All 17 of them are really, really great people. And this was completely avoidable. And I don't want to hear about our president talking about mental health on the news when he needs to be talking about his gun control.
BRADY: Florida Senator Bill Nelson was also in Parkland today talking about the need for more gun legislation.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
BILL NELSON: It is time for us to start a serious effort to try to wear down the opposition.
BRADY: Nelson is a Democrat running for re-election and faces a potential challenge from current Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott. After the 2016 Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, Scott said the Second Amendment didn't kill anyone. Now Governor Scott says when it comes to tightening gun laws, everything is on the table. Jeff Brady, NPR News, Parkland, Fla. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.