Investigators say the warning signs were there days before a deadly mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
The gunman who murdered 19 students and two teachers left clues on Instagram and TikTok.
There was the Instagram photo of a hand holding a gun magazine, a TikTok profile that warned, “Kids be scared,” and the image of two AR-style semi-automatic rifles displayed on a rug, pinned to the top of the killer’s Instagram profile.
Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, spoke Friday about the social media posts the shooter made.
“When you get something -- just because a guy sounds like a nut, he may be a nut,” said McCraw. “We need everyone, when we have a threat to life like that, to report it.”
In the wake of the shooting, CrimeStoppers is encouraging people to report suspicious posts on social media in the future.
One call could save someone’s life.
First Coast CrimeStoppers executive director Wyllie Hodges said someone should have taken the shooter’s clues and reported them to law enforcement.
“I can’t imagine someone putting something especially as strong as he did on the internet to people, no one would say anything about it, especially in the light of what, where we are right now, in the United States,” Hodges said. “I’m sorry, but with all the crime and the suffering that’s going on, you know, you just got to be part of the solving stuff.”
Hodges said with suspicious activity on social media, you can call the police or you can call CrimeStoppers so you can remain anonymous. That number is 1-866-845-TIPS.
“You got a lot of people that are going to be suffering for years and years, and probably the rest of their lives, and maybe -- maybe -- one phone call could have stopped this,” Hodges said.
Young men have taken to Instagram to drop small hints of what’s to come with photos of their own weapons just days or weeks before executing a mass killing.
“I mean, it’s obviously really important. I mean, if you look back at all these shootings over the years, in particular the school shootings and stuff, you’ll find that there’s been clues that have been either overlooked or just people didn’t think much about them at the time, which could have really, probably saved a lot of lives,” Hodges said.
Before shooting 17 students and staff members dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, Nikolas Cruz posted on YouTube that he wanted to be a “professional school shooter” and shared photos of his face covered, posing with guns. The FBI took in a tip about Cruz’s YouTube comment but never followed up with Cruz.
The school district in Uvalde had even spent money on software that, using geofencing technology, monitors for potential threats in the area.
The shooter didn’t make a direct threat in posts. His threatening posts were in chats with people.
Having recently turned 18, he was legally allowed in Texas to own the weapons he used in the shooting.