The Mississippi bail bondsman who alerted federal investigators last year to suspicious behavior by the suspected Florida school gunman is speaking out as the FBI faces accusations that it dropped the ball.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Ben Bennight contacted the bureau in September to report a YouTube comment by someone named Nikolas Cruz — the same name as the suspect — who expressed a desire to become a “professional school shooter.”
In an interview with Fox News Channel‘s Jesse Watters, Bennight described what happened next.
“They sent two agents out right away,” he said. “The two agents came to my office and gathered the information I had to offer, took a copy of the screenshot, and I thought initiated an investigation.”
Following that conversation with FBI agents, he said he did not hear back from investigators until the day of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“On the day of the shooting, the FBI agent that came to my office in September contacted me and asked if they could meet,” he said.
When the two agents arrived at his home, he said it soon became clear why they wanted to speak to him again.
“Him and his partner came to my house and asked me some more questions to see if I had further information about the subject,” he said. “And that’s when they told me the subject had the same name as the commenter on the video.”
The FBI has faced criticism in the days since it was announced that agents were told about Cruz’s prior behavior. Bennight is among those who say it seems more could have been done to prevent last week’s tragedy.
“I don’t want to speculate on how the FBI conducts their investigations,” he said. “But I know in the digital world we live in, people get tracked down on a regular basis.”
Bennight also weighed in on social media threats in general, including the sometimes violent backlash aimed at lawmakers and others deemed guilty of being unresponsive to prior mass shootings in America.
“We have freedom of speech,” he said. “People can say a lot of things that are covered under freedom of speech, but I think when you make threats, serious threats like that, they need to be investigated.”
[Featured image: Ben Bennight/Fox News Channel video screenshot]