(National Sentinel) Warning: The FBI was warned last fall about a school shooting threat from a YouTube user named Nikolas Cruz, the name of the 19-year-old troubled man who stormed a Broward County, Fla., high school Wednesday and opened fire on students and faculty, Buzzfeed News reported.
The site noted:
Last fall, a Mississippi bail bondsman and frequent YouTube vlogger noticed an alarming comment left on one of his videos. “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” said a user named Nikolas Cruz.
The YouTuber, 36-year-old Ben Bennight, alerted the FBI, emailing a screenshot of the comment to the bureau’s tips account. He also flagged the comment to YouTube, which removed it from the video.
Agents with the bureau’s Mississippi field office got back to him “immediately,” Bennight said, and conducted an in-person interview the following day, on Sept. 25.
“They came to my office the next morning and asked me if I knew anything about the person,” Bennight told BuzzFeed News. “I didn’t. They took a copy of the screenshot and that was the last I heard from them.”
The FBI contacted Bennight again Wednesday evening after Cruz allegedly killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida and was taken into custody, he said.
As is often the case following these kinds of incidents, questions are being raised anew over whether the bureau — along with acquaintances and school officials — missed warning signs:
Classmates, relatives, and neighbors have described Cruz as a troubled “loner” who often talked about guns and flaunted his obsession with weapons on his social media accounts. And Jim Gard, a math teacher at the school, told the Miami Herald that the teen had previously been identified as a potential threat to other students.
Authorities won’t confirm whether the suspect taken into custody Wednesday is the same Nikolas Cruz who left the ‘professional shooter’ comment on Bennight’s YouTube page.
That said, according to Buzzfeed News, Special Agent Ryan Furr with the FBI’s Miami field office called Bennight and left a voicemail stating: “I think we spoke with you in the past about a complaint that you made about someone making a comment on your YouTube channel. I just wanted to follow up with you on that and ask you a question with something that’s come up, if you wouldn’t mind giving me a ring.”
Within a few hours, he told the news site, FBI agents paid him and visit and asked him once more if he knew Cruz. “They asked me if I knew who he was, I didn’t. I don’t,” Bennight said. “Then they left.”
But many students from the school said they all believed that Cruz could someday do what he is now charged with doing, as noted in an interview with local station WJXT:
— Vic Micolucci WJXT (@WJXTvic) February 14, 2018
NBC News reported: “Cruz had recently been expelled from Douglas for disciplinary reasons and was enrolled elsewhere in the district, Broward County schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said.”
Image: Screen grab/NBC News
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