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Cyber crimes looks into social media threats of violence

SOUTH BEND, In. -- Officials continue to report that the Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had been posting concerning comments on social media. 

In the past several months, several Michiana schools have seen some scary social media threats.

ABC57 News wanted to see how law enforcement vets these types of threats.

"In a typical week, we may look at 5-10 reports of some sort of concerning behavior online," says the St. Joseph County Cyber Crimes Unit Director, Mitch Kajzer. 

Kajzer says most of the threats don't come out to be anything serious, but they still check every single one.

"When we get a report of some sort of concerning comment or threat online, we do a full formal threat assessment on that," he explains. "We look at everything as a whole, we don't look at that one comment that was posted."

Kajzer says, those types of posts are generally the tipping point: a proof of a plan, or plot to do harm.

But usually, he says, there are warning signs.

"The thing is, with these type of shootings, they don't come out of the blue," Kajzer adds. 

And in Wednesday's school shooting at the South Florida High School, those red flags were raging. 

Kajzer showed ABC57 News various social media posts Cruz had made, commenting that he wanted to "shoot people with my AR-15."

"Posting pictures of himself with guns, dressed in fatigues, posting pictures of targets, " lists Kajzer. "That's one of the warning behaviors we look for that indicate a higher risk of carrying out an at of targeted violence."

Warning behaviors that are out in the open, waiting to be reported.  

"The scary thing is we just had the school shooting yesterday and there is a person out there planning the next one," says Kajzer. "They're exhibiting those warning signs and people are seeing it and not reporting."

That's why reporting behaviors and disturbing posts are crucial, he explains.

Without knowledge of someone or something, law enforcement can't investigate. 

"We can't predict behavior. We'll never be able to predict human behavior," Kajzer says. "But what we can do, is prevent certain things from happening."

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