D'IBERVILLE, MS (WMC) - "I'm going to be a professional school shooter."
A YouTube vlogger from South Mississippi said those words popped up under one of his videos last fall, posted by a guy with the screen name Nikolas Cruz. On Wednesday, a 19-year-old by the same name allegedly opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, killing 17 people and injuring numerous others.
Ben Bennight, who works as a bondsman in D'Iberville, said he immediately took a screenshot of the comment last September and reported it to the FBI and YouTube. However, he said he didn't even think about that comment this week until the FBI contacted him Wednesday following the school shooting in Florida.
"I didn't make the connection until after the FBI contacted me yesterday," Bennight said. "I asked what my comment had to do with the shooting and [the FBI agent] said it was the same name and might be the same person."
How and why that comment ended up on Bennight's YouTube page on Sept. 25, 2017, is still a mystery to the bondsman.
"I think it was just one of those random things that happened to land on my desk," Bennight said.
FBI agents from the Mississippi field office were at his George County home questioning him within 24 hours after he reported the comment to authorities.
"The next day, two FBI agents were standing in my office taking down the information, taking copies of the screenshot and asking me questions that of course, I couldn't answer," Bennight said. "All it was on my channel was a comment. People leave pretty heinous comments on a pretty regular basis on this channel."
In a press conference Thursday morning, authorities in Broward County, FL said they investigated the comment when it was made.
"In 2017, the FBI received information about a comment made on a YouTube channel. The comment simply said, 'I'm going to be a professional school shooter.' No other information was included with that comment which would indicate a time, location, or the true identity of the person who made the comment. The FBI conducted database reviews, checks, but was unable to further identify the person who actually made the comment," FBI Special Agent Robert Lasky said during a news conference Thursday morning.
In his video, Bennight - whose YouTube username is Ben the Bondsman - said he doesn't remember which video the comment was made on and that YouTube immediately removed the comment once he reported it to them. However, he said he's not sure what, if anything, the FBI could have done given how little information it was.
"I wish the information could have prevented this from happening, but it was a generic comment and people say things, keyboard commandos type things all the time that they don't mean. I'm not really sure there is anything the FBI could do with the information other than keeping an eye on somebody." Bennight said. "I can't fathom what goes through somebody's mind when they decide to pick up a weapon of any kind and take another person's life just because. It's obviously a sickness and the individual who committed this heinous act needed help."