As Evidence Piles Up Alleging Authorities’ Negligence Dealing With Florida School Shooter, Warren Amps Up Financial Pressure On NRA

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Despite increasing evidence pointing to multiple public safety failures on the part of the Broward County Sheriff’s office, Democrats, led in part by Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, remain staunchly committed to blaming the National Rifle Association for the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida earlier this month.

Warren’s latest move, launched Monday, saw her fire off a host of intimidating letters to investment firms that have connections to the American firearms industry. The three gun manufacturers named by Warren include one from her home state — Springfield’s American Outdoor Brands, formerly known as Smith & Wesson — along with Connecticut-based Sturm, Ruger & Company, and Utah-based Vista Outdoor.

According to her press release, the Cambridge Democrat “sent letters to nine major gun company shareholders calling on them to use their financial leverage to ensure that the companies they invest in are taking steps to reduce gun violence.”

The initiative spearheaded by Warren is the latest effort to sock it to the NRA financially, and comes on the heels of activists in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy successfully forcing major businesses to sever ties with the nation’s largest Second Amendment advocacy organization.

Warren cites the February 14 massacre at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in which a 19-year-old gunman wielding an AR-15 rifle killed 17 people and wounded at least 14 others. The Valentine’s Day shooting — Warren points out — involved an AR-15 rifle “manufactured by Smith & Wesson, a subsidiary of the publicly-traded American Outdoor Brands Corporation.”

“Stock prices of gun makers often rise after mass shootings,” Warren claimed in her press release.

The AR-15 is the most popular rifle sold in America.

“Your company is in a powerful position,” Warren wrote in her form letter to the nine “major gun company shareholders,” which includes Boston-based Fidelity Investment Management. “You have reaped significant benefits from your investment in gun manufacturers, but have done little to reduce the violence and murders caused by their products.”

On Tuesday, as Warren’s press release began to drive headlines, new reports surfaced confirming that the Broward County Sheriff’s office received 45 calls from residents and family members concerned with the goings-on at the alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz’s residence. According to documents obtained by CNN, the calls include references to “mentally ill person,” domestic disturbance,” “missing person,” and “child/elderly abuse,” but the bulk of the calls ended with the “no written report” status.

Approximately 19 of the calls involved Nikolas Cruz, with the first call reported when he was just 9 years old.

Yet the cable network, even as new details regarding the macabre incident appeared to emerge by the minute, elected to hold a televised town-hall-style event last Thursday featuring NRA spokesman Dana Loesch, Florida Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, and various Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students.

Israel during the event drew steady and enthusiastic applause from the crowd, especially when he accused Loesch of not “standing up” for the slain students.

“You’re not standing up for them, until you say ‘I want less weapons’,” Israel said, drawing cheers.

One particularly timely exchange occurred when Loesch reminded Israel about the NRA’s push to “partner with law enforcement” and help school districts to determine “if they want to have armed guards.”

Israel at the time bristled at Loesch’s comments, and instead insisted, “America, there’s one person responsible for this act — that’s the detestable violent killer — he responsible for this act.”

Hours after the conclusion of the town hall event a new report surfaced confirming that Israel’s armed school resources officer, Scot Petersen, assigned to the Parkland high school, remained at his post outside the school building even while the massacre was taking place. Petersen was later suspended without pay and eventually filed for retirement.

Petersen has claimed that the initial report he received was over “firecrackers” and not gunshots. His attorney has maintained that Petersen acted correctly when he maintained a “tactical position” outside the school building, but Israel himself has come out and blamed his deputy “for doing nothing.”

Approximately 82 minutes transpired between the time Cruz arrived at the school and the time he was apprehended by police. 

Meanwhile, Miami Herald report suggests that Cruz “could have face charges before [the] massacre — had cops done their job,” and outlined instances in which the alleged shooter apparently “threatened classmates, posted photos of himself holding guns, made violent statements online, and was repeatedly described to authorities as a potential ‘school shooter’,” and in one instance, apparently “drank gasoline” as part of a failed suicide attempt.

Cruz, during another instance, reportedly put a gun to another individual’s head, an allegation that was apparently reported to the Broward County Sheriff’s office but did not result in any charges.



On Tuesday, the Naples Daily News reported that school officials in 2017 recommended Cruz be transferred to an alternative school with mental health services, but were rebuffed by Cruz — as was his right — since by that time he was 18 years old, legally an adult.

Cruz, who had also been reported to the FBI after allegedly making statements online indicating he was planning to shoot up a school, was 19 years old when he purchased his AR-15, according to the Broward County-based Sun Sentinel.

Earlier this month, Cruz’s younger brother — who is 17 — was committed to a psychiatric facility as a result of the state of Florida’s “Baker Act,” a statute that allows authorities to involuntarily commit an someone to a mental health facility if the person is found to be a danger to himself or others.

Authorities have yet to explain why the 17-year-old’s older brother Nikolas Cruz, despite having a litany of mental-health-related reports prior to his 18th birthday, was not similarly subject to the act. Both were adopted as foster children by an older couple who later died, the most recent being their foster mother, Lynda Cruz, who succumbed on November 1 to pneumonia, at age 68.

In 2013, Florida lawmakers — with the support of the NRA — passed a bill stipulating that adults who have been “allowed to transfer to voluntary status in lieu of court-ordered involuntary placement, after being admitted for involuntary examination at a Baker Act receiving facility, and who is certified by a physician to be of imminent danger to self or others, may be prohibited from purchasing firearms or obtaining or retaining a license for a concealed weapon.”

Additionally, convicted felons in Florida are barred from owning firearms.

Meanwhile, Warren in her statement pointed to the “34 mass shootings across the country” thus far in 2018 and claimed that “gun companies can establish tougher self-regulation, asking outlets that sell their products to impose their own requirements such as higher minimum age requirements for purchase of weapons, or requiring waiting periods prior to purchase.”

“They can also direct company research towards the development of safer weapons and violence reduction. None of these steps would substitute action by the federal government but each would help reduce gun violence.”

Warren also referred to a statement released by BlackRock, the “single largest shareholder in Sturm, Ruger & Company,” which indicated it will “speak with weapons manufacturers and distributors ‘to understand their response’ to the Parkland shooting.”

Per Warren’s office:

“This is a positive step, but having conversations is simply not enough.”

Below are links to the firms and individuals Warren has reached out to, including the letters she wrote:

  • Laurence D. Fink, Chairman & CEO of BlackRock. BlackRock holds the single largest stake in AOBC and is the single largest shareholder in Sturm, Ruger & Company. [Link to letter]
  • Gregory McGreevey, President & Chief Executive Officer, Invesco Advisers Inc.. Invesco holds the second largest stake in AOBC and the seventh largest stake in Sturm & Ruger. [Link to letter]
  • Mortimer J. Buckley, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vanguard Group. Vanguard holds the third largest stake in AOBC, the second largest stake in Sturm & Ruger, and the third largest stake in Vista Outdoors. [Link to letter]
  • Josef Lakonishok, CEO of LSV Asset Management.  LSV holds the fourth largest stake in AOBC. [Link to letter]
  • David Booth, Executive Chairman, Dimensional Fund Advisers Inc. .Dimensional Fund Advisers holds the fifth largest stake in AOBC and Vista Outdoors, and the sixth largest stake in Sturm & Ruger. [Link to letter]
  • Michael A. Bell, Director, Chief Financial Officer, and Managing Director, Voya Investment Management Company. Voya is the sixth largest stakeholder in AOBC and the fifth largest stakeholder in Sturm & Ruger. [Link to letter]
  • Stephen M. Goddard, Managing Director, the London Company of Virginia. The London Company is the fourth largest shareholder in Sturm & Ruger, and has a large stake in AOBC. [Link to letter]
  • Abigail P. Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Investments.  Fidelity holds the single largest stake in Vista Outdoors. [Link to letter]
  • Mehdi Mahmud, President and Chief Executive Officer, First Eagle Investment Management Company. First Eagle holds the fourth largest stake in Vista Outdoors. [Link to letter]