Zachary Cruz says he wants to move on and “live his life,” but can’t escape the guilt he feels that bullying his younger brother may have contributed to a massacre that left 17 people dead.
The brother of alleged Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz has opened up about his life after the shooting and the factors that may have contributed to his brother’s shooing rampage in February. The 18-year-old Zachary Cruz spoke to the Palm Beach Post about how his brother was emotionally fragile as a child.
Looking back, Zachary believes he was “too hard” on his younger brother and admitted that he bullied him sometimes.
“(Nikolas) is a very fragile person and my mom was always there for him,” Zachary Cruz said.
Both Nikolas and Zachary Cruz were adopted at birth. Their father died in 2005 and their mother, Lynda, passed away in November from pneumonia.
Zachary Cruz added that he and Nikolas were eventually able to smooth out their relationship.
“When we were younger we used to fight a lot,” Zachary Cruz said. “But as we got older and became teenagers we made amends and came to terms with each other and accepted that we were both different.”
Zachary Cruz has made plans to move from Palm Beach County to Virginia after a judge agreed to change the terms of a six-month probation he had been serving after being arrested for trespassing on the Stoneman Douglas High School campus. Zachary told officers that he went to the school to “reflect” on the shootings.
As the New York Post reported, Zachary is seeking a “fresh start” far away from the shooting site and will be working for Nexus Services, a pro bono legal organization, making $13 an hour.
On the three-month anniversary of the shooting, there is still much attention on what went wrong and how red flags surrounding Nikolas Cruz had been missed by so many in the community. A report from the South Florida Sun Sentinel revealed that Nikolas Cruz had been suspended for 67 days over the course of roughly 18 months while he attended Westglades Middle School and that he continued to get into trouble at Stoneman Douglas High School until he was eventually expelled.
Nikolas Cruz was steered into a program aimed at rehabilitating troubled students, rather than referring them to the criminal justice system, but critics, including some parents of students killed in the February 14 shooting, say that allowed his serious warning signs to be missed.