South MS man reported threatening Youtube comment made by allege - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

South MS man reported threatening Youtube comment made by alleged school shooter last fall

This comment made by username "Nikolas Cruz" was posted to a South Mississippi vlogger's page last fall. (Source: Youtube) This comment made by username "Nikolas Cruz" was posted to a South Mississippi vlogger's page last fall. (Source: Youtube)
Ben Bennight of George County says he didn't immediately make the connection between the comment and the school shooting until FBI agents contacted him Wednesday afternoon. (Source: WLOX) Ben Bennight of George County says he didn't immediately make the connection between the comment and the school shooting until FBI agents contacted him Wednesday afternoon. (Source: WLOX)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

"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 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 until the FBI showed back up at his office Wednesday following the school shooting in Florida.

"I didn't make the connection until after the FBI contacted me," Bennight told WLOX News. "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."

CLICK HERE TO WATCH BENNIGHT'S YOUTUBE VIDEO ABOUT THE COMMENT LEFT LAST FALL ON HIS PAGE

Bennight - who owns a bail bond company in D'Iberville and maintains a Youtube channel at his business under the username Ben the Bondsman - said the FBI had many questions about the comment that he couldn't answer.

“They wanted to know basically if the guy contacted me after that, if I had any more information, if I had any other records of the comment. Once I marked the comment as spam, Youtube removed it and there was no record of it.”

In September, after Bennight first reported the comment to the FBI, he said agents from the Mississippi field office showed up within hours to question him about it.

"All it was on my channel was a comment. People leave pretty heinous comments on a pretty regular basis on this channel," he said in his Youtube video.

At a press conference in Florida Thursday morning, authorities acknowledged that they investigated the comment when it was made. The FBI's Mississippi field office later confirmed to WLOX in a written release that they received information about the comment last fall but couldn't identify the person who posted it. 

“In September 2017, the FBI received information about a comment made on a YouTube channel. The comment said, 'I’m going to be a professional school shooter.' 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 conducted database reviews and other checks, but was unable to further identify the person who posted the comment.”

Bennight said he's not sure what, if anything, the FBI could have done given how little information it was. 

“I think the FBI did take it seriously. I don't know what they could have done. It was a very vague comment on social media and I don't know if they ever tracked down the original user.” 

In his video, he explained further: "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 when he first saw the comment, he was shocked.

"The first thing I thought was why would someone put that on social media or anywhere publicly unless they were wanting a lot of attention."

With more violence sweeping through America's schools, Bennight has a theory about what's happening.

“Kids are becoming more and more brazen, and brazen kids become brazen adults. And I think we're seeing generations coming up that feel entitled that they can get away with more and more and more. And I think that's what we're seeing.”

Following a stunning 24 hours, Bennight is left with one question about the original cryptic message.

“Out of 300,000 people in the United States, why me?”

Copyright 2018 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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