- Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz has been identified as the suspect in the high school shooting that killed at least 17 people on Wednesday.
- Cruz was previously expelled from the high school and was described as “quiet and strange” by his peers.
- Comments and photos on social media accounts believed to have belonged to Cruz revealed threats and several firearms.
Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz has been identified as the suspect in the shooting that killed at least 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday.
Cruz was reportedly armed with an AR-15-styled semiautomatic rifle and “countless magazines,” the Broward Sheriff’s Office said. Law enforcement officials familiar with the shooting said Cruz also possessed a gas mask and smoke grenades, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said on CNN.
Cruz was believed to have intentionally set off the school’s fire alarms “so the kids would come pouring out of the classrooms into the hall,” during the shooting, Nelson continued.
Following the height of the shooting, Cruz reportedly tried to escape by blending in with other fleeing students, law enforcement sources and eyewitnesses told ABC News. Though he managed to leave the school, he was later apprehended after the police identified him through surveillance videos, CNN correspondent Martin Savidge reported.
Cruz, who was detained without incident and was transported to the hospital for labored breathing, has been the only suspect named in the shooting, according to Savidge.
Kicked out of high school
Though investigators are still looking at motives for the shooting, details on Cruz’s life have begun to emerge from fellow students and investigators.
Cruz was reportedly expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas for disciplinary reasons, according to multiple news reports. Though school officials did not confirm the exact reason for Cruz’s expulsion, a 17-year-old junior said he was expelled after a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, the Associated Press reported.
Jim Gard, one of Cruz’s former teachers, said that he was told Cruz “wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” The Miami Herald reported.
A student who attended the same alternative high school as Cruz said that he was known to have flaunted pictures of firearms on his phone.
“He shot guns because he felt that it gave him an exhilarating feeling,” the student said on WSVN-7 News. “He showed me personally through his phone.”
“I didn’t want to cause any conflict with him because that’s the impression he gave off,” the student continued.
The student also said that he knew Cruz had guns at his home for two years.
“It surprises me the fact that this is going on today, but it doesn’t shock me that it was him,” the student continued. “It was an eye-opener.”
Another student who was assigned to a school project with Cruz said he had aspirations to join the military and enjoyed hunting, CNN reported.
“He always just seemed very quiet and strange,” the student said. “Just always to himself, never really tried to associate with anybody, but once given the opportunity, he liked to talk.”
Cruz’s mother, Lynda Cruz, reportedly had trouble with his behavior in the past. Lynda would occasionally contact the police to give him behavioral advice at their home, according to Helen Pasciolla, a former neighbor.
“I think she wanted to scare them a little bit,” Pasciolla said in The New York Times. “Nikolas has behavioral problems, I think, but I never thought he would be violent.”
Threatening comments on social media
Cruz is also believed to have posted images of his guns and made threats on social media accounts.
He allegedly commented nine months ago that he was going to kill law enforcement officials “one day” because they “go after the good people,” CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin said.
Another comment by Cruz reportedly said he wished “to kill as many as I can,” Griffin reported.
Several pictures posted on an Instagram account believed to belong to Cruz revealed firearms, ammunition, and accessories, such as scopes, The Times reported.
Other images from the alleged Instagram account contained pictures of shooting practice sheets and a man wearing a hat imprinted with US Army’s logo.
Broward County sheriff Scott Israel, who has reportedly begun learning about Cruz’s social media presence, called it “very, very concerning,” The Times continued.