FBI failed to investigate tip received in early January about school shooter

ABC News' Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas and ABC News contributor and former FBI agent Brad Garrett discuss the FBI's failure on "This Week."
5:48 | 02/18/18

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Transcript for FBI failed to investigate tip received in early January about school shooter
For more on the latest in the investigation I want to bring in chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas and ABC news contributor and former FBI agent Brad Garrett. Good morning, gentlemen. Thank you for coming down here. I have want to start with you Pierre about the stunning admission from the FBI on Friday, well over a month ago January 15th a person close to Nikolas Cruz called the FBI tip line, Cruz's gun ownership, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts as well as the potential of him performing a school shooting. To put it simply they blew it. They're crest fallen at the FBI. Their yob is to fill in the gap. Here's a case where someone called in all the information you want to have to prevent something like this. The young man is disturbed, talked about killing people. This is the thing you should follow up on and they didn't. Is this just someone answering the phone? My understanding is the call came into the clearing house where they get thousands of tips. My source said make no mistake this is a tip we should have followed up on. Brad, this should have been assessed as a potential threat to life. What do you think is happening here? Are there too many tips? There are too many tips. The reality is the FBI dropped the ball. The local authorities dropped the ball based on information they had about the potential shooter. It goes down to this, Martha, when people say things awful, I want to shoot up a school, but they don't mention a school specifically, it's not against the law. What happens is there's a gray area you have to fill in if you're in law enforcement. Going and knocking on the door and say son, let me talk to you. Assess him. Maybe take a mental health expert with you. As long as we stay in this area, it's very difficult for most law enforcement to move on because they can't arrest you. President trump of course had this tweet last night. He seems to think he has figured it out. Very sad the FBI missed all the signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. They're spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the trump campaign. What's your reaction to that, Pierre? Within the FBI there are a lot of people concerned with the president trying to influence them. I've not had a chance to talk to anyone about that tweet. I would think it's in the same category. Brad, the same people answering the tip line and doing regular investigations don't have anything to do P with Russia? Of course not. You have to understand as political chatter goes on, the people running on the ground are going to keep running on the ground. The people in the field offices or getting assignments do whafr it might be, work a bank robbery, their life goes on. The idea this got mixed up because of the Russia investigation is silly. Let's talk about what happened here. We had a 19-year-old with a semi-automatic weapon, was able to buy it legally, has mental health disturb. People were calling the school. People were calling police. What could have happened if all the protocol was followed? Could this have been stopped? I don't want to beat up on the FBI too much here. They're already crest fallen as I said about this situation. The whole idea of see something, say something is to create a situation where they can go knock on that door. If you go knock on the door after getting the information, you'll find out a couple things. You'll find out this young man was receiving counseling. You'll find out neighbors are concerned about him. Then you found out he's got an ar-15. Then whatan you do about that, Brad? Zero. But perhaps having a conversation. He had counseling. That's the point. Even if all the protocols are followed, what could you do to stop it? Maybe nothing is because school shooters and mass shooters think about this for months years. They'll wait. Some of them know they can step up to a line. He said inappropriate things. He had a weapon legally. What are you going to do? In some jurisdictions there's a thing called emergency violence protection orders. You can get one of those where you can temporarily seize someone's gun. That lot of states don't like them. They think of the second amendment. We can't think about we're going to arrest somebody. We have to think about what can we do with them to help them. Martha, I'm not saying he should have been arrested in the moment. What law enforcement tells me if you can get people to the appropriate psychiatric medical help you can perhaps mitigate whatever is going on with them. Thanks to both of you. Pierre, you'll be joining us later. It didn't take long after

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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