In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Wednesday, a full profile of the shooter is being developed. Many of the survivors are saying that they knew, instantly, who was responsible for the shooting. And now more information has come to light to suggest that authorities had been warned, too.
“In September,” Buzzfeed writes, “a YouTube user named Nikolas Cruz left a comment on a video stating, ‘I’m going to be a professional school shooter.’ The video’s creator alerted both the FBI and YouTube.”
The comment appeared on the YouTube channel of a a Mississippi bail bondsman and “frequent YouTube vlogger.”
36-year-old Ben Bennight was rightfully alarmed. He contacted the FBI. He even emailed a screenshot of the comment to the FBI’s tip line. Bennight didn’t stop there. He was proactive enough to flag the comment on YouTube.What YouTube did with it is not yet known, but they did remove it from his video
The FBI responded promptly. Agents from the Mississippi field office met with Bennight the next day.
“They came to my office the next morning and asked me if I knew anything about the person,” Bennight told BuzzFeed. “I didn’t. They took a copy of the screenshot and that was the last I heard from them.”
The FBI was back Wednesday. They reached out to Bennight again to see if he’d had any further contact with the 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.
Cruz has a history of disciplinary issues at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He was expelled last year after he threatened another student.
“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,” Buzzfeed writes. “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.”
FBI officials haven’t confirmed that Cruz is the one who posted the comments, but agents from the Miami field office were called Bennight again, around the same time that Cruz was taken into custody.
“I think we spoke with you in the past about a complaint that you made about someone making a comment on your YouTube channel,”Special Agent Ryan Furrsaid said in his message. “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.”
Before the end of the evening Wednesday, agents were at Bennight’s door.
“They asked me if I knew who he was. I didn’t. I don’t,” Bennight said. “Then they left.”
Nikolas Cruz’s YouTube account was taken down Wednesday evening. YouTube has now deleted it, citing “multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy on violence.”
These new details all point to one question. What steps are taken to ensure that people, like Cruz, who are identified as threats are unable to act on those threats?