Back in September, a YouTube commenter calling himself "Nikolas Cruz" left a message for a Ben Bennight, a YouTube "vlogger" who frequently records and posts videos on law enforcement issues, claiming that "Cruz" might be planning something serious. But despite Bennight alerting FBI officials, it's not clear the agency followed up on the threat.
According to Buzzfeed, Cruz wrote, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter," in the comments section for one of Bennight's videos. Although he says he gets a lot of "weird comments," Bennight flagged this one and sent it to the FBI immediately. FBI agents at a local field office contacted him about the threat the next day.
“They came to my office the next morning and asked me if I knew anything about the person,” Bennight told BuzzFeed. “I didn’t. They took a copy of the screenshot and that was the last I heard from them.”
Bennight recorded and posted a video on his interactions with law enforcement Wednesday night, claiming that the FBI contacted him shortly after hearing about the school shooting in Florida.
A page for the commenter "Nikolas Cruz" was removed by YouTube Wednesday evening for "multiple or severe violations of YouTube's policy on violence."
The issue seems to be, however, that the FBI never made a connection between Bennight's report and other reports made to state and federal law enforcement agencies, including local branch offices of the FBI near Parkland, Florida, naming the same kid, Nikolas Cruz.
Although the FBI can't interfere in what would have to be a local law enforcement issue, it's also not clear that they ever contacted local authorities to share what they knew, if they thought Cruz's comments on Bennight's video amounted to a credible threat.
While policymakers tangle with the prickly issue of gun control, the real question in this Florida tragedy may be why authorities are incapacitated when dealing with a threat everyone knows exists, but has yet to come to fruition.