Getty Images | Sandy Huffaker

Someone Tried To Alert The FBI After Seeing The Poway Shooter's Manifesto Online

In the social media age, communication and connection should be easier than ever. That's what it was all invented for, in theory. Much has been made of the increased disconnection and miscommunication on social media, of course, and it's not without cause.

But the fact is, we have no idea how many tragedies have been averted thanks to social media, and people watching out for each other. Surely that makes all the disconnection and miscommunication worth it, even when the attempts fall a bit short?

Just as Passover came to an end, another house of worship was targeted in an attack.

Twitter | @ikhan16

At about 11:30 am on Saturday, April 27, a gunman entered the Chabad of Poway synagogue and opened fire, killing one woman, Lori Gilbert Kaye, and wounding three others. Thankfully, the gunman's weapon jammed and he was chased off and quickly apprehended before more lives could be taken.

And, in the aftermath, we've learned that efforts to stop the shooter began before the shooting even started.

That's because the shooter posted a manifesto online and someone saw it, recognized it for what it was, and tried to alert the authorities.

Twitter | @HenMazzig

As he recalled to BuzzFeed News, a man named Colin logged into the online message board 8chan, known as a haven for white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, and aggressive trolls, just out of curiosity, and discovered the manifesto.

"I can't remember why, but the picture and the first line of the preview caught my attention," Colin said. "And I thought, is this like New Zealand?"

Colin took a screenshot and opened the manifesto to see what was in there.

He found a hate-filled rant against Jews and praise for the Christchurch mosque attacks and the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting, as well as a promise to livestream the upcoming attack on Facebook. Colin also noted a line claiming responsibility for a fire at a mosque in Escondido.

"So I highlighted that, searched Google, and the son of a bitch really did do that," Colin recalled. "That was what made me call the FBI."

Even though he was hesitant to call, fearing he'd be brushed off as a hoax, Colin dialed in and the FBI took his alert seriously.

"The FBI was great," he said. "When I got her on the line, it's not like talking to a dispatcher. She was familiar with 4chan and 8chan ... and when I told her about the Escondido thing, she opened up the letter. It was all in like four and a half or five minutes."

Unfortunately, it takes time to verify things like this, and 8chan was swift when it came to taking down the manifesto.

"[The shooter] posted at 11:00, and I called the FBI 1-800 number at exactly 11:15. I was on hold for like three and a half minutes, and then 8chan, the website, they deleted the post at like 11:20," Colin said. "So the damn thing was only up for 20 minutes before the administrators of the site took it down, while I was on the phone with the FBI, and then I knew for sure it must be legit."

Of course, minutes later the shooting started.

"I guarantee the shooter didn't post that until he was already in his car on his way down there," Colin said. "They know it's too small of a window — that's why he used his real name. It didn't matter, they weren't going to get him."

Colin wasn't the only one calling in tips to the FBI about the manifesto, either.

There just wasn't enough time to follow up and stop the attack.

"Approximately five minutes before the shooting at Chabad Synagogue in Poway, California, the FBI received submissions through its online tip website and tip phone number regarding an anonymous threatening post on a social media site," an official told BuzzFeed News. "The submissions included a link to the post, but did not offer specific information about the post's author or threat location. Although FBI employees immediately took action to determine the post's author, the shooting occurred before the suspect could be fully identified.

"The FBI thanks the alert citizens who saw and reported the post."

For its part, 8chan denied any responsibility for any association with the shooter

"The Poway shooter's post on 8chan was taken down NINE minutes after creation," read a post on 8chan's Twitter feed. "There are only screencaps available and no archives exist since the post was deleted so quickly. The loudest groups publicizing this crime and giving attention to this CRIMINAL are the fake-news media."

h/t BuzzFeed News