- Gaston De Cardenas/Reuters
- In September, a YouTube user named Nikolas Cruz commented on a video, saying, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”
- The owner of that video says he notified YouTube and the FBI at the time.
- That incident has taken on new significance since authorities identified a 19-year-old named Nikolas Cruz as the suspect in Wednesday’s shooting at a high school in Florida that left 17 people dead and over a dozen wounded.
Ben Bennight, a bail bondsman in Mississippi who posts video blogs on YouTube, knew something was amiss when someone named Nikolas Cruz posted “I’m going to be a professional school shooter” in the comments section of one of his videos in September, BuzzFeed News reported Thursday.
So he urged YouTube to remove the comment and emailed a screenshot of it to the FBI, the report says.
Bennight said he told the FBI the next day that he didn’t know anything about the commenter.
That happened about five months before Wednesday’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, near Fort Lauderdale, that left 17 people dead and at least 14 wounded. Authorities have identified the suspect in the shooting as Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student at the high school.
An FBI agent based in Miami on Wednesday revisited Bennight’s tip and called him to ask whether he had any additional information about the YouTube comment, Bennight said in a video he posted that night. Then, he said, the FBI in Mississippi again came to speak with him.
“They asked me if I knew who he was,” Bennight told BuzzFeed News. “I didn’t. I don’t. Then they left.”
During a press conference Thursday, an FBI special agent named Robert Lasky said the bureau was not able to confirm whether the account that commented on the video in September belonged to Cruz.
Residents in Parkland, which was named Florida’s safest city last year by a home-security industry trade association, are reeling from Wednesday’s shooting.
Students at the high school, many of whom barricaded themselves in classrooms until police apprehended the shooter, described stepping over pools of blood and bodies as they exited the building.
On Thursday, authorities charged Cruz with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He is being held at the Broward County jail in Fort Lauderdale.