The FBI reportedly investigated a YouTube account that may have belonged to the alleged killer in yesterday’s Florida school shooting. BuzzFeed writes that vlogger Ben Bennight emailed the agency in September of last year, saying someone had left a comment claiming they were “going to be a professional school shooter.” The commenter’s username was “Nikolas Cruz,” also the name of the 19-year-old alleged shooter in Broward County, Florida. According to BuzzFeed, the FBI followed up with an in-person interview but didn’t contact Bennight again, until calling him up shortly after Cruz was arrested.
The “Nikolas Cruz” YouTube account has been suspended, but CNN cites other threatening comments left below videos, including “I whana [sic] shoot people with my AR-15.” A now-deleted Instagram account, confirmed as Cruz’s, included photographs of knives and guns. Broward sheriff Scott Israel told reporters yesterday that Cruz’s social media posts were “very, very disturbing.” Cruz also presented potential offline red flags: he had been expelled from school for disciplinary reasons, and a classmate said he’d been “threatening students” beforehand.
Several previous mass shooters have left behind digital warning signs, like social media pages filled with guns or videos announcing their intent. Law enforcement has taken some previous online school shooting threats very seriously: a Virginia middle school student faced criminal charges for posting an Instagram message laced with guns and knives, and a 19-year-old was jailed for an apparently sarcastic threat on Facebook.
On Twitter, President Donald Trump said that people around Cruz should have reported him to authorities beforehand — but if this account was Cruz’s, authorities may have already been aware of a potential threat. However, FBI Special Agent Rob Lasky told CNN reporter Jake Tapper that the agency wasn’t able to identify the person who made the comment, after conducting database reviews.
Update 11:30AM ET: Added FBI statement to Tapper.