It was a foreboding comment then and an especially eerie one now: "I'm going to be a professional school shooter" was posted to a YouTube video by a user named "Nikolas Cruz." Ben Bennight, the 36-year-old vlogger who'd uploaded the video, was alarmed enough that he brought the comment to YouTube's attention and also on Sept. 24 sent a screenshot of it to the FBI's field office in his home state of Mississippi. And the FBI took it seriously, responding "immediately" and interviewing him in person the following day. They "asked me if I knew anything about the person," Bennight tells BuzzFeed. "That was the last I heard from them." That is, until Wednesday, when the FBI reached out again in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting; they haven't said whether they now believe suspect Nikolas Cruz is the same Cruz who commented.
- The FBI did confirm in a Thursday morning press conference that they were unable to determine the commenter's identity at the time: "No other information was included in the comment, which would indicate a time, location, or true identity of the person who made the comment. The FBI conducted database reviews, checks, but was unable to further identify the person who made the comment."
- President Trump spoke to the nation from the White House Thursday morning and described a country "joined together as one American family" in the wake of the shooting. He directly addressed America's children, reports the Miami Herald, saying, "I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be. You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you." Trump announced he would visit Florida to meet with victims' families, discuss school security options, and "tackle the difficult issue of mental health." The AP notes he didn't mention guns or gun control.
- As for security, the AP reports the Broward County sheriff has confirmed an armed officer was present on campus when the shooting began but that he never crossed paths with the suspect.
- The Herald offers a running roster of the identities of the 17 victims as those identities emerge. Among them: senior Nicholas Dworet, who had secured a swimming scholarship to the University of Indianapolis; and 17-year-old Joaquin Olivier, who came to the US from Venezuela at age 3 and became a citizen in January 2017.
- In a roundup of what's known about Cruz, the Herald reports he was a member of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps as a freshman. He may have been wearing his JROTC shirt at the time of the attack, something a student speculates could have been an intentional move to blend in, as JROTC members wear the tees on Wednesdays.
- The leader of a white nationalist militia called the Republic of Florida confirmed Cruz was a member who had participated in exercises in Tallahassee, though the group said it has zero connection to "what he just did." The leader mentioned Cruz's "trouble with a girl" and suggested the attack may have intentionally occurred on Valentine's Day. More here.
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