FBI agents were reportedly warned about the alleged Florida high school shooter’s plans months prior to the Feb. 14 massacre, reports the New York Daily News.
A YouTube user named Nikolas Cruz left a chilling comment on a video by a Mississippi bail bondsman using the screen name Ben the Bondsman. Ben, whose real name is Ben Bennight, recalls being unable to “ignore” the frightening message.
“This comment said, ‘I’m going to be a professional school shooter,’ and I knew that I couldn’t just ignore that,” he said.
Bennight snapped a screenshot of the comment in September 2017 and sent it to the FBI in addition to reporting it to YouTube, which removed the comment and has since deleted the commenter’s channel. Bennight was visited by authorities and questioned about whether he knew who posted the comment.
“I imagine, from there, they did a pretty thorough investigation and tried to find out who this person was, but you guys know how the internet is and how screen names are … The screen name was Nikolas Cruz.”
According to Bennight, he was immediately contacted by FBI agents in both Mississippi and Miami in the hours after 19-year-old Nikolas De Jesus Cruz reportedly shot and killed at least 17 people at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School.
“I would like to think that they were already investigating this guy, and they had him on the top of their radar, and that’s how they ended up contacting me so quickly,” Bennight said.
Cruz had been expelled from the school and did not graduate after causing so much concern that school administrators banned him from campus, according to police. The suspect’s former classmates revealed he had a history of making dark, gun-related jokes and suffered from “a lot of anger management issues.”
Cruz often joked about shooting people and/or establishments and would frequently mention having guns and using them. Math teacher Jim Gard added that Cruz had been aggressive toward other students in the past.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” he said. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”
Authorities say Cruz made his disturbing fantasies into reality on Wednesday, bringing an AR-15 and several magazines of ammunition onto campus. He was arrested by police officers after allegedly killing 17 people and injuring more than a dozen others.
According to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, Cruz arrived at the school wearing a gas mask and carrying smoke grenades. In order to create chaos and panic, he allegedly pulled the fire alarm, prompting students to begin pouring out of their classrooms and into the hallways. Local authorities stated that he was arrested in a neighborhood nearby after escaping the carnage in a crowd of students.