Many mass shooters leave clues on social media. What can we do when we see them?

CHARLOTTE — In many cases, mass shooters leave clues online about what they are going to do. The suspect in the mass shooting at a parade that happened on July Fourth in a Chicago suburb is no exception.

What can we all do to try to prevent this?

From frightening drawings that showed himself shooting others, to a video with violent imagery -- the suspect in the parade shooting left a trail of clues on social media that he may have wanted to hurt people. Now, many are questioning whether anyone ever reported the concerning posts.

Theresa Payton was the chief information officer under President George W. Bush. Now, she runs the cybersecurity firm Fortalice Solutions.

“There are red flags, there are digital tracks that individuals tend to leave,” she said. “It’s almost as if they’re saying, ‘Please stop me from what I’m about to do.’”

Payton has looked into the suspect’s online presence. She believes social media companies need to make it easier to report potential issues and follow up on them.

“We have to make it easier for citizens who are concerned to request a wellness check,” she said. “To say ‘I’m seeing things, I prefer to remain anonymous.’”

What can you do to help?

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says if you see something concerning, they can get involved.

“If you are on social media and you see things that trouble you -- give you that feeling in the pit of your stomach -- go ahead and reach out to law enforcement,” said CMPD Lieutenant Stephen Fischbach.

Fischbach said they follow up on every tip they receive. If you are concerned about something posted on social media, you can call 911 or Crime Stoppers and they will investigate. But you have to take that first step.

“For years, we’ve told the community, ‘We need you to be our eyes and ears out there to extend that arm of the police department,’” Fischbach said. “Now, we’re asking you to do the same -- virtually -- on social media.”

It should be pointed out that Illinois has some of the strictest gun laws in the U.S. -- including red flag laws that would allow law enforcement or family to petition a judge to have guns removed from someone.

The Carolinas don’t have a red flag law.

(WATCH BELOW: Highland Park parade shooting: Victims of the fatal attack)

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