The FBI had been warned in advance of Nikolas Cruz’s murderous intentions by a YouTuber, it has emerged.
Ben Bennight, a 36-year-old bail bondsman and vlogger, alerted YouTube and the FBI in September about a comment left on one of his videos.
In the comment Cruz had said, ‘I’m going to be a professional school shooter’, according to BuzzFeed News.
Bennight told the FBI:
This comment was left on my YouTube Channel. The comment has been reported to YouTube as well.
He said agents got back to him immediately and came to his office the next day to conduct an interview in person.
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.
19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz was apprehended by local police following a short manhunt after the attack on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, north of Miami.
Police say suspect Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
According to reports 12 of the students had been killed in the school building, another two just outside the premises and one in the street, while two others are believed to have died in hospital, The Independent reports.
Cruz, who was recently expelled from the school and was enrolled in another school in the same district, was said to have ‘countless magazines’ and at least one AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Helicopter footage from the scene, which had been circulating around American media outlets, showed a man, believed to be Cruz, in a red shirt, surrounded by police officers while in handcuffs.
Broward School District Superintendent, Robert Runcie, confirmed there have been ‘numerous fatalities’ in a brief press statement, saying:
There are numerous fatalities. It’s a horrific situation. It’s just a horrible day for us. We have no evidence at this point there was more than one shooter. It’s a day you pray every day you never have to see. We didn’t have any phone calls or threats that we know of that were made.
We cannot live in a world built on fear, we have do what we can to provide the greatest safety measures for our kids.
Mental health issues in this country are growing and it’s certainly something that needs to be addressed in our school system.
Despite Cruz’s expulsion from the school, the school authorities say they did not receive any prior warnings of the tragedy.
Superintendent Runcie told reporters outside the school: ‘Potentially there could have been signs out there, but we didn’t have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.’
The Florida shooting is now the eighteenth to take place in a US school this year – the third deadliest in American history.
Our thoughts are with all those affected by this latest tragedy.