In an effort to show that the Florida Department of Children and Families’ investigation into Florida school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was “run-of-the-mill,” DCF’s acting general counsel, John Jackson, petitioned the court to allow the release of the records of a state investigation into allegations of abuse and neglect in Cruz’s home.
Several media organizations were also behind the petition after reports emerged about the results of the investigation. Jackson said that DCF “is the only one at the table who looks like they’re hiding something.” Broward Circuit Court Judge, Charles Greene, granted the request for the release, saying “if there were shortcomings, the public has a right to know.”
According to Greene, Cruz effectively waived his right to privacy by “his own actions,” and the State Attorney’s Office did not object to the release of the records which include the 2016 evaluation of Nikolas Cruz after reports that Cruz was being victimized by his mother. The report indicated that Cruz did cut himself by his own admission, that he felt depressed, and he planned to purchase a gun. However, DCF investigators closed Cruz’s file after determining the shooter’s mother did not mistreat him, and counselors decided he was not a threat to himself or others.
Cruz has been diagnosed with autism, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and was receiving mental health treatment before, during, and after DCF’s investigation, but he had not been committed to any mental health facility. The 2016 investigation was the only time DCF had any direct interaction with Cruz, and DCF Secretary Mike Carroll, in a statement, said that “once we learned that the shooter had involvement with this person, we immediately began the process of asking a court to release these records.”
“DCF is absolutely heartbroken and disgusted by last week’s tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Once we learned that the shooter had involvement with the agency in 2016, we immediately began the process of asking a court to release these records detailing DCF’s only involvement with this person. We also conducted a thorough review to confirm that all processes and procedures were followed. In these investigations, DCF relies on the expertise of mental health professionals and law enforcement and these records show that DCF took the steps to involve these partners in investigating this alleged abuse. Cruz was receiving mental health services before, during, and after our investigation was closed, he was living with his mother, and attending school. Our focus will continue to be on working with our partners to best serve Florida’s communities.”
At the time of the DCF investigation on September 28, 2016, Nikolas Cruz was attending school regularly, was living with his mother, and did not own a firearm. The investigation included mental health counselors, school personnel, and law enforcement. In spite of his mental health treatment and the 41 disciplinary acts Cruz was cited for at school, which included fighting, minor assaults, and insults laced with profanity, Cruz legally purchased the AR-15 used in the school shooting.