Burials Begin for Families of Florida High School Shooting Victims as Authorities Revisit Warnings That Could Have Prevented Massacre

Luis Rodriguez, a student, held a memorial card for Alyssa Miriam Alhadeff, one of the victims of the shooting on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, outside Alyssa’s funeral in North Lauderdale, Fla., on Friday. (Credit Saul Martinez for The New York Times)
Luis Rodriguez, a student, held a memorial card for Alyssa Miriam Alhadeff, one of the victims of the shooting on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, outside Alyssa’s funeral in North Lauderdale, Fla., on Friday. (Credit Saul Martinez for The New York Times)

Grief and raw anger were palpable on Friday at the first funerals for students who died in one of the deadliest shootings in modern American history earlier this week.

“You,” said Andrew Pollack, directing his fury at the man who authorities have identified as the gunman who killed his daughter, Meadow Pollack, 18. “Killed. My. Kid. My kid is dead. It goes through my head all day. And night.”

As the burials began for the 17 victims, the F.B.I. acknowledged that it had failed to act on a warning last month that Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in Wednesday’s shooting, might kill people at a school. On Friday evening, President Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, made an unannounced visit to meet with law enforcement officials and medical workers who helped in the wake of the shooting.

The consequences from the shooting have reverberated far beyond school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., as schools around the nation closed Friday, or canceled activities after receiving threats. A teacher in Denver said she moved items from a closet in her classroom “to make more space for 9-year-olds to hide.”

Here’s the latest:

• Mr. Cruz is being held without bond at the Broward County jail, where he has been placed on suicide watch, according to Gordon Weekes, the county’s chief assistant public defender. He faces 17 counts of premeditated murder.

• A federal law enforcement official on Friday said that Mr. Cruz fired more than 100 rounds during the shooting.

• Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County said that his office had received about 20 calls about Mr. Cruz over the past two years, though cautioned that some of the calls may not have resulted in a response by officers.

• More than 2,000 students have been interviewed as part of the investigation, the sheriff said. He added that Mr. Cruz did not have a gas mask or smoke grenades, as had previously been reported.

• In Florida, an AR-15 is easier to buy than a handgun. Read more on how the AR-15 became one of the weapons of choice for mass killers, and the research that tries to explain the high rate of mass shootings in the United States.

• Sign up for the Morning Briefing for news and a daily look at what you need to know to begin your day.

Florida’s governor calls on the F.B.I. director to resign.

The F.B.I.’s admission that it failed to act on a tip in January from a person close to Mr. Cruz prompted Gov. Rick Scott of Florida to call for the bureau’s director to resign.

The bureau, which was already under considerable political pressure because of its investigation into Mr. Trump, faced calls for even more scrutiny following the massacre.

Mr. Scott said that Christopher A. Wray, the director of the F.B.I., should step down and that the bureau’s failure to act on the tip about Mr. Cruz was “unacceptable.” “Seventeen innocent people are dead and acknowledging a mistake isn’t going to cut it,” Mr. Scott said in a statement.

In an unusually sharp public rebuke of his own agents, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that the missed warnings had “tragic consequences” and that “the F.B.I. in conjunction with our state and local partners must act flawlessly to prevent all attacks. This is imperative, and we must do better.”

Robert F. Lasky, the special agent in charge of the F.B.I. field office in Miami, said the agency advised the victims’ parents about the misstep in a conference call on Friday.

“We will be looking into where and how the protocol broke down,” he said. Read more here.

‘How does this happen?’ a parent asks as victims’ funerals begin.

At the first funeral, Alyssa Miriam Alhadeff, 14, was remembered for her joy and kindness, traits that had attracted a wide circle of friends. Hundreds of mourners filled the Star of David Funeral Chapel in North Lauderdale, Fla., spilling outside.

Among the youngest victims, Alyssa, an honor student and a player for the Parkland soccer club, was buried in the Garden of Aaron at Star of David Memorial Gardens.

Her mother, Lori Alhadeff, urged Alyssa’s friends to stay in touch, but also let their future success be her daughter’s legacy. “Live, breathe for Alyssa,” she said.

At a synagogue just a mile from where she had been gunned down, Meadow Pollack, 18, lay in a plain wooden coffin, closed in accordance with Jewish tradition.

Before her were hundreds of mourners, seated in row upon row and crowding every wall and corner: her cousins, her classmates, the governor and so many others. She is survived by many family members, including her brothers and her grandmother Evelyn.

Click here to continue reading…

SOURCE: JULIE TURKEWITZ, PATRICIA MAZZEI and AUDRA D. S. BURCH
The New York Times