The FBI has been plagued by scandals.
Former Director James Comey and his leadership team planned a conspiracy to spy on the Trump campaign.
And now the Bureau just got some really bad news.
Americans were horrified to learn of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The deranged gunmen killed at least 17 individuals in one of the most horrific acts of madness in American history.
But could it have been prevented?
The shooter was known to be troubled and had been kicked out of school.
In addition, a YouTube user with a name matching that of the killer had left a comment on a YouTube video last fall claiming that “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”
The creator of the video contacted the FBI and he was interviewed by agents from the Mississippi field office in late September.
“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.
The YouTuber, 36-year-old Ben Bennight, alerted the FBI, emailing a screenshot of the comment to the bureau’s tips account. He also flagged the comment to YouTube, which removed it from the video.
Agents with the bureau’s Mississippi field office got back to him “immediately,” Bennight said, and conducted an in-person interview the following day, on Sept. 25.
“They came to my office the next morning and asked me if I knew anything about the person,” Bennight told BuzzFeed News. “I didn’t. They took a copy of the screenshot and that was the last I heard from them.”
This is the second time the FBI may have had advanced knowledge of a mass shooter in Florida.
The Bureau investigated the Pulse Nightclub shooter for ten months before he carried out his act of mass murder.
The FBI’s investigation into this YouTube comment was another missed sign – among the many red flags that were missed about this shooter – that may have prevented an unspeakable tragedy.
Shortly after the shooting took place, FBI agents contacted the YouTube video creator and asked him if he knew the shooter.
“FBI agents contacted Bennight again Wednesday, after a 19-year-old named Nikolas Cruz allegedly opened fire at a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida, killing at least 17 people.
In an email on Sept. 24, Ben Bennight alerted the FBI to a “school shooting threat” made by a YouTube user named nikolas cruz.
In the wake of the deadly shooting, questions have emerged over whether officials and acquaintances had missed warning signs about the alleged shooter, a former student who was expelled from the high school last year for disciplinary reasons.
Classmates, relatives, and neighbors have described Cruz as a troubled “loner” who often talked about guns and flaunted his obsession with weapons on his social media accounts. And Jim Gard, a math teacher at the school, told the Miami Herald that the teen had previously been identified as a potential threat to other students.
Though his name matches the YouTube user flagged in September, FBI officials would not say whether they have confirmed that the account belonged to Cruz.
But around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday — about 30 minutes after Cruz was taken into custody by police in Broward County — Special Agent Ryan Furr with the FBI’s Miami field office called Bennight and left him 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,” the agent, Ryan Furr, said in the message, which Bennight provided to BuzzFeed News. “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”
A few hours later, Bennight said FBI agents in Mississippi visited him again in person, pressing for more information about the YouTube user Nikolas Cruz.
“They asked me if I knew who he was, I didn’t. I don’t,” Bennight said. “Then they left.”
We will keep you up to date on any new developments in this story.