Representatives from Florida’s Fusion Centers, which are aimed at sharing information between state agencies to assess potential threats, admitted the organization had no information on Nikolas Cruz before February’s shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.
That’s despite a series of red flags identified by the FBI, Broward Sheriff’s Office, and school officials prior to the attack.
The comments were made at a meeting Wednesday of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which is focused on reviewing what led up to the shooting and ways to prevent similar attacks in the future.
“This commission is trying to figure out where the breakdown happened,” said Okaloosa Sheriff Larry Ashley, a member of the commission.
“And we have supposedly actionable intelligence received multiple times by multiple agencies, and somehow the Fusion Center didn’t get it. Nobody else got it from the FBI all the way down. So I’m just trying to put that picture together and I can’t figure out why nobody knew.”
Major Brian Rafky, Director of the Southeast Florida Fusion Center, confirmed that no information was ever sent his way.
“The problem is that if we never get [the information], it’s gonna stay in whatever silo that it stays in.”
The Florida Fusion Center began in 2007, and modeled efforts at the federal level after the 9/11 attacks to make sure information on potential threats is shared throughout government. That way, any apparent “isolated incidents” of troubling behavior witnessed by different agencies could be pieced together to form a more complete picture of a possible threat.
There are several regional Fusion Centers across the state as well. The centers partner with law enforcement agencies in order to send out alerts on those potential threats.
But despite their ability to share information, it doesn’t appear any of Cruz’ many warning signs were ever forwarded to the Fusion Center.
Rafky said his hands are tied if the Fusion Center never receives any tips in the first place. He was asked what the commission could do to prevent a repeat of the Stoneman Douglas situation.
“I think education on all the resources that are available,” Rafky said.
“Things can get lost in the shuffle. And that’s really what Fusion Center can do, which is gather information, share it, disseminate it, get other partner agencies involved, whether if be state, local or federal.”