PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WTXF) - The horrific Florida school shooting event is leading to more questions about how the FBI investigates its tips. Here in Philadelphia, police say they’re constantly monitoring social media.
As the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida unfolded February 14 and the alleged killer Nikolas Cruz was taken into custody, FBI agents instantly began tracking Cruz’s every move leading up to the shooting, including a tip they got 5 months earlier from YouTube vlogger Ben Bennight who sent the FBI a screen shot from a Nikolas Cruz posting.
“This comment said ‘I’m going to be a professional school shooter.’ I knew I couldn’t just ignore that,” said Ben Bennight.
The FBI now confirms it did investigate Bennight’s tip on the Cruz YouTube posting.
“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,” stated FBI Special Agent Robert Lasky.
“The FBI is only as good as the information it either receives or can obtain through legal means,” said former FBI Special Agent John Terry.
Terry, who worked in Philadelphia, told FOX 29 a typical FBI investigation would entail data base reviews and other checks to determine who posted it.
“You’d start looking into this person’s background. Is it someone who’s got other data points? Dots we should be connecting?” said Agent Terry.
“Lots of times, they’re just someone mouthing off on social media, but we take it real serious. We have investigators go right out and run on these,” explained Deputy Commissioner Dennis Wilson.
Philadelphia police get lots of tips and monitor social media for threats against schools.
“Any hint of any kind, anything that’s off, we immediately investigate that,” Deputy Wilson said
Deputy Wilson says if a threat is real and a lock down occurs, like the one at Lincoln High School just last month, no resources are speared.
“It’s all hands on deck when we get a threat. We want to intercept it immediately,” Deputy Wilson stated.
John Terry says connecting all the dots in a threat investigation can be complicated and time consuming.
“An investigation is like putting a puzzle together. You can grab different pieces of the puzzle and try and paint a picture that anyone can understand,” explained Agent Terry.
The Philadelphia Police Department says they have literally stopped several threats on schools this year alone.