An FBI official acknowledged on Thursday the bureau received a tip months before the Florida high school massacre about a social media comment by a Nikolas Cruz, who aspired to be “a professional school shooter."
Special Agent Rob Lasky, in charge of the FBI’s Miami division, confirmed during a Thursday morning news conference the agency investigated a comment made on a YouTube video in September that matched the remark reported by vlogger Ben Bennight. After conducting database reviews, however, the FBI said it could not identify the user who made the comment.
"No other information was included in the comment which would indicate a particular time, location or the true identity of the person who posted the comment," the FBI said in a subsequent statement.
The comment, made by user Nikolas Cruz, stated: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”
Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is accused of a bloody rampage that killed 17 people at the school.
Bennight, a Mississippi bail bondsman who goes by the name “Ben The Bondsman” on YouTube and social media, said in a new video posted Wednesday he immediately reported the threatening comment to YouTube and contacted the FBI. Bennight also included a screenshot of the comment.
“Well, the next day I had two FBI agents standing in my office, taking down the information, taking copies of the screenshots and asking me questions that, of course, I couldn’t answer. All it was on my channel was a comment,” Bennight said.
Bennight said he reported the disturbing comment because he “just couldn’t ignore” it.
Bennight said Wednesday he was again contacted by FBI agents from the Mississippi and Miami field offices — after alleged gunman Cruz shot and killed at least 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
“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,” the vlogger said. “I wish I could have given them more information.”
Bennight told BuzzFeed News that Special Agent Ryan Furr from the FBI’s Miami field office contacted him and left a voicemail.
"I think we spoke with you in the past about a complaint that you made about someone making a comment on your YouTube channel," Furr said in the message that was detailed in a transcription Bennight posted. "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.”
The FBI did not immediately comment when reached by Fox News asking about Cruz's YouTube account, which has since been taken down. Bennight also did not immediately return Fox News' request for comment.
Cruz was charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He was booked into Broward County Jail after federal and local investigators questioned him. Cruz allegedly walked into the school with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition before firing an AR-15 at students and faculty members.
Details about Cruz’s troubled past have emerged hours after the deadly shooting. The 19-year-old was a former student at the high school, but was expelled in the last school year after getting into a fight with the boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend, a student told The Associated Press.