Seventeen people have been confirmed dead and more than 14 more were injured during a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Police have taken in suspect Nikolas Cruz, 19, who allegedly triggered the fire alarm to draw out students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School so he could have more victims to shoot.
Who is Nikolas Cruz? What is there to know about him? And how did he resort to the violence that ended the lives of many?
1. The teen gunman was a former student of the high school.
Several news outlets, including the Miami Herald, have confirmed that suspect Nikolas Cruz is 19-years old. According to police, Cruz previously attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but got expelled due to unspecified disciplinary reasons. Math teacher Jim Gard, who was one of Cruz’s teachers, told the news outlet that the school had sent out emails in the past warning teachers about Cruz’s behavior. He added that the alleged shooter was already banned from entering school premises.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on. There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”
2. Behavior issues were apparent.
Many people in school had spoken about Cruz’s behavioral problems. Some students had predicted and joked that Nikolas Cruz would somehow be involved if there’s a school shooting. Also, a few students believed Cruz had the capacity to commit such a violent act.
Eighteen-year-old Chad Williams, a senior at the high school, and Cruz’s middle school classmate, said he remembered him as someone who was troubled, as reported by Reuters. According to Williams, Cruz had set off the school’s fire alarm every day until it resulted in his expulsion.
3. Nikolas Cruz was “crazy about guns” and other weapons.
Williams said he recently saw Cruz bringing publications about guns to school. He described Cruz to be someone who was “crazy about guns.” Another student, Jillian Davis, 19, said the same thing about Nikolas’ penchant for guns. Not only that, the teen was also fascinated with knives and he would talk about weapons a lot, yet no one took him seriously.
4. Cruz had “disturbing” social media posts.
Nikolas Cruz was fond of posting photos of weapons on social media and student Matthew Walker described it as “sick.” As reported by BBC, images of weapons have been spreading on social media and are from two Instagram accounts that are said to belong to Cruz. These accounts have since been deleted.
The Parkland Florida shooting started just before the 3 p.m. dismissal. According to police, Cruz, who’s believed to have worked alone, walked on the campus and started shooting his way into the school building.
Cruz is now in police custody.