On Wedenesday, February 14th, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17 students and faculty members. In the aftermath of the shooting, one of the deadliest in our nation's history, questions have been raised about whether law enforcement missed critical warnings that Cruz was preparing for a shooting and whether he should have been allowed to purchase deadly weapons in the first place. It has now been revealed that one of the more notable signs included a comment from someone named Nikolas Cruz on a YouTube video, telling the world exactly what he intended to do.
36-year-old vlogger Ben Bennight alerted the FBI when he noticed an ominous Facebook comment on one of his videos. The comment, posted by a user named Nikolas Cruz, read:
I'm going to be a professional school shooter.
Upon seeing the comment, Bennight immediately contacted the FBI and YouTube. The vlogger told Buzzfeed that the FBI responded right away:
They came to my office the next morning and asked me if I knew anything about the person. I didn't. They took a copy of the screenshot and that was the last I heard from them.
BREAKING: FBI investigated 2017 YouTube comment by alleged shooter "I'm going to be a professional school shooter"; agency couldn't ID person despite same spelling of name would show multiple social media posts of shooter posing with weapons. pic.twitter.com/w7Vb7mw1nH— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) February 15, 2018
A simple Google search of Cruz's name, as written in the YouTube comment, would reveal several social media accounts which feature Cruz posing with guns and talking obsessively about weapons. A quick follow-up on the young man's history would have shown he had been expelled from his High School for "disciplinary reasons," and had been singled out in the past as a potential safety threat to other students.
"In 2017, the FBI received information about a comment made on a YouTube channel. The comment simply said, 'I'm going to be a professional school shooter,'" special agent in charge of FBI's Miami division says, adding that they could not identify commenter https://t.co/a1MXsLNIPw pic.twitter.com/UzpiSGbwUW— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 15, 2018
A half hour after Cruz was taken into custody, Bennight received a voice mail from Special Agent Ryan Furr of the FBI:
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.
Agents then came to meet Bennight in person, wanting to know more about the YouTube commenter. Bennight commented:
They asked me if I knew who he was. I didn't. I don't. Then they left.
A YouTuber named "BentheBondsman" says the FBI talked to him today because user named NikolasCruz left comment on his video videos last year saying he was "going to be a professional school shooter." The comment was reported to the FBI/YouTube at the time: https://t.co/JdH0bGUeCI— Tom Cleary (@tomwcleary) February 15, 2018
The FBI confirmed at a press conference that they received Bennight's tip about a future school shooter, but were unable to uncover any details about Cruz. Special Agent Robert Lasky commented:
No other information was included in the comment, which would indicate a time, location, or true identity of the person who made the comment. The FBI conducted database reviews, checks, but was unable to further identify the person who made the comment
Google must have been out that day.
If the fbi can find me and arrest me for stealing a movie online how can they not figure out where a youtube comment came from.... the kid literally commented saying “i wanna be a proffesional school shooter”— Nitti Gritti (@DJNittiGritti) February 15, 2018
Bennight has posted a blog about the whole experience.
Despite countless warning signs, including his expulsion from school, his reputation as a "loner" obsessed with weapons, a history of mental health problems, and a YouTube comment telling the world he was going to be a school shooter, Cruz was cleared to own an assault rifle completely legally. He purchased the gun in February of 2017, at the age of 18, just after President Trump signed a bill eliminating restrictions on gun purchases based on mental health.
So let's sum up. The Parkland gunman:— Matthew Chapman (@fawfulfan) February 15, 2018
-Was too young to buy beer
-Was expelled from school for violence
-Got mental health treatment
-Got reported to the FBI for boasting he'd shoot up a school on YouTube
And as of 02/13/18, owned an assault rifle totally legally.