Often after a horrible shooting, the reports are all the same. Family, friends, casual acquaintances all say they’re shocked, they never saw such a thing coming.
But not this time. Everyone who came in contact with Nikolas Cruz — who on Wednesday went on a shooting spree at a Florida high school, killing 17 — knew there was something wring with the 19 year old.
“Last fall, a Mississippi bail bondsman and frequent YouTube vlogger noticed an alarming comment left on one of his videos. ‘I’m going to be a professional school shooter,’ said a user named Nikolas Cruz,” Buzzfeed reported.
Bennight told the FBI. “They came to my office the next morning and asked me if I knew anything about the person,” Bennight said. “I didn’t. They took a copy of the screenshot and that was the last I heard from them.”
But right after the shooting, the FBI got in touch with Bennight. “I think we spoke with you in the past about a complaint that you made about someone making a comment on your YouTube channel,” an FBI agent said in a phone message. “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.”
So, another major fail by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sure, there’s no way to tell whether someone who posts a threatening message will follow through on the threat, but it’s a another big black eye for the embattled bureau.
The FBI blew the Boston marathon bombing case. They had reports about the Tsarnaev brothers, but never followed up on them. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was eyed by the FBI at least twice, and the Russian government even warned the U.S. in March 2011 that he was radicalized, FBI Director Robert Mueller said in congressional testimony in June 2013.
But the FBI has been busy jousting with windmills of late. They’ve been off on a wild goose chase trying to find evidence to prove President Trump colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 election. As part of that effort, they wiretapped phones of Trump campaign aides, winning court approval by using questionable “evidence” of wrongdoing.
The bureau has also been in internal turmoil. One FBI agent, Peter Strzok, was demoted after text messages with his mistress showed a hatred of Trump. And Strzok, it turns out, was heavily involved in both the Russia probe and the decision to clear Hillary Clinton in her sordid email scandal.
Deputy Director Andrew McCabe left the bureau earlier this month, reportedly amid a Justice Department probe into his handling of the Clinton email investigation.
In September 2017, a memo outlined an ongoing probe by the Department of Justice that found “systemic” misconduct problems at the FBI where the bureau was not reporting “high-risk security concerns” made against agents, Newsweek reported.
The Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General reviewed a sample of 78 FBI employees who failed polygraph exams. They went over the cases, then checked whether the allegations were reported. The review found a number of cases with “serious allegations of misconduct” that were never reported or dealt with properly, the memo said.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that the FBI failed to follow up on leads about the young man who would eventually go on a shooting spree, killing 17 and wounding 14.
Maybe the bureau should get back to its core job — it is called the “bureau of investigation,” after all.