Florida Gunman Wanted To Be A “Professional School Shooter”
UPDATE: 02/15/17 1: 04 PM EST
More details have come to light about Nikolas Cruz, the gunman who killed 17 students and teachers at his former high school in South Florida.
The New York Times reports the 19-year-old was on the FBI’s radar for a comment he made on YouTube channel last year. In September 2017, Ben Bennight reported Cruz to the FBI after the teen commented on his video saying, “I always wanted to be a professional school shooter.” Bennight, a bail bondsman in Mississippi, says he couldn’t remember which video, but reported it to YouTube who removed the comment. He also tried to trace the comment, but couldn’t find an active email address.
Speaking to the Times, Bennight says he was contacted by the FBI shortly after the shooting. He shared the information about the screenshot to the agents. “We live in a country where you can’t just lock people away for saying something,” he said. “You can’t just stuff somebody in a black hole because they said something that makes you uncomfortable. I believe the FBI took it seriously. I hope that they followed up.”
The organization released a statement about the report. “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 statement said.
In addition to Bennight’s findings, former students and teachers of Cruz weren’t surprised Cruz was the gunman. He was frequently described as a “troubled kid” who bragged about murdering animals and showing off guns and knives.
Jim Gard, a math teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School said administrators received an email last year about Cruz’s behavior. “We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” he told the Miami Herald. A student added that Cruz once came to school with bullets in his bookbag. Cruz was living with family after his mother passed away after battling the flu last month.
He was reportedly attending the school’s adult program and told family members he chose not to go to classes Tuesday because he “never went to school on Valentine’s Day.”
President Donald Trump said Wednesday (Feb. 15) he has plans to visit the victims in Parkland. His speech focused on mental health and less on gun control. “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior,”Trump tweeted after the shooting. “Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”
Names of the victims have slowly come to light. The include students Jaime Guttenberg (, Alyssa Alhadeff and football coach Andrew “Aaron” Feis, who used his body to shield bullets from students.
UPDATE: 02/14/17 06: 12 PM EST
According to CNN, at least 16 casualties have been reported.
A former student was arrested Wednesday (Feb. 14) after opening fire at a South Florida high school.
Reuters reports the shooting happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland just after 2:20 PM ET., with up to 14 people injured with multiple fatalities. Victims were taken to two local hospitals. The large campus holds an estimated 2,972 students.
Students claimed the shooter walked inside the school, began firing into multiple classrooms and even attempted to fire into lock doors. As students tried to get away, the suspect reportedly blended into the crowd and ran out with them. He was eventually caught by police after attempting to flee to a neighborhood complex near the school. One student told ABC News that he saw five dead students outside his classroom.
Another told CNN affiliate WSVN he thought a fire drill was going on since the school just went through the practice the day before. “Everyone just started freaking out,” he said. “We all thought it was a fire drill because we had one previously today, and we thought it was, so no one was that nervous, but then word started going around that it was shots and not just, like, something else, everyone just started running towards the canal.”
“There are numerous fatalities. It’s a horrific situation,” Broward Country Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie told reporters. The Broward Sheriff’s Department also took to Twitter alert people of the shooting.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters students have been transported to the Marriott, a local hotel in Heron Bay.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott also took to Twitter conforming that President Donald Trump was alerted about the shooting. Trump also gave updates on the incident.
No motive has been revealed, but students have told reporters conflicting stories on the suspect. Stories claim the shooter was either kicked out or dropped out the school recently. His Instagram page was also reportedly filled with photos of guns and knives.
This is the 18th school shooting this year, Everytown for Gun Safety notes.
This is a developing story.