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Florida school shooter charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder

The man accused of killing 17 students at a Florida High School and wounding numerous others is now charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Posted: Feb 15, 2018 9:31 AM
Updated: Feb 15, 2018 10:09 AM

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — Students and neighbors describe the suspect in the deadly rampage at a Florida high school as a troubled teenager who threatened and harassed peers, talked about killing animals, posed with guns in disturbing photos on social media, and bragged about target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for "disciplinary reasons," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said, but he insisted he didn't know the specifics. Math teacher Jim Gard told the Miami Herald that before Wednesday's fatal shooting of 17 people, Cruz may have been identified as a potential threat - Gard believes the school had sent out an email warning teachers that Cruz shouldn't be allowed on campus with a backpack.

"There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus," Gard told the paper.

Student Victoria Olvera, 17, said Cruz had been abusive to his ex-girlfriend and that his expulsion was over a fight with her new boyfriend. He'd been attending another school in Broward County since the expulsion, school officials said.

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Cruz was an orphan — his mother, Lynda Cruz died of pneumonia on Nov. 1 neighbors, friends and family members said, according to the Sun Sentinel. Cruz and her husband, who died of a heart attack several years ago, adopted Nikolas and his biological brother, Zachary, after the couple moved from Long Island in New York to Broward County.

The boys were left in the care of a family friend after their mother died, family member Barbara Kumbatovich, of Long Island, said.

Unhappy there, Nikolas Cruz asked to move in with a friend's family in northwest Broward. The family agreed, and Cruz moved in around Thanksgiving. According to lawyer Jim Lewis, who represents but did not identify the family, they knew that Cruz owned the AR-15 but made him keep it locked up in a cabinet and never saw him go to a shooting range with it. He did have the key, however.

Cruz legally purchased the assault weapon about a year ago, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The family is devastated and shocked, lawyer Lewis said. During the three months Cruz lived there, he was respectful and quiet but also sad over his mother's death, Lewis told The AP.

"No indication that anything severe like this was wrong," Lewis said. "Just a mildly troubled kid who'd lost his mom. ... He totally kept this from everybody."

The family's son was a junior at the school and was there when the shooting happened, Lewis said. The family is cooperating as their home is searched and no one there is suspected of wrongdoing, he added.

Longtime Cruz family neighbors Malcolm and Christine Roxburgh told the Sun Sentinel that the police came to the boy's house many times, as he used to get in trouble and harass people. Malcolm Roxburgh said a neighbor across the street kept pigs, and Nicolas Cruz targeted the family.

"He didn't like the pigs and didn't like the neighbors, so he sent over his dog over there to try to attack them," Roxburgh said.

His wife said she once caught Nikolas peeking in her window.

"I said, 'What are you doing here?' He said he was looking for golf balls. I said, 'This isn't the golf course,'" she said.

And, the couple said, when the boy didn't want to go to school, he would bang his head against a cement wall. They were scared of him. "He could have killed any of us," Christine Roxburgh said.

Cruz was getting treatment at a mental health clinic for a while, but hadn't been there for more than a year, Broward County Mayor Beam Furr said during an interview with CNN.

"It wasn't like there wasn't concern for him," Furr said. "We try to keep our eyes out on those kids who aren't connected ... Most teachers try to steer them toward some kind of connections. ... In this case, we didn't find a way to connect with this kid."

Officials said they're dissecting the suspect's disturbing social media posts, without elaboration. But peers said they recognized Cruz from an Instagram photo posing with a gun in front of his face. The students called Cruz "weird" and a "loner" - even those who'd been friendly with him said they hadn't seen him in more than a year since his expulsion.

Dakota Mutchler, 17, recalled Cruz posting on Instagram about killing animals and said he had talked about doing target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun.

"He started going after one of my friends, threatening her, and I cut him off from there," Mutchler said.

He said students weren't surprised officials had identified Cruz as the shooter: "I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him." Mutchler said.

But Broward County School District Superintendent Robert Runcie said he did not know of any threats posed by Cruz to the school.

"Typically you see in these situations that there potentially could have been signs out there," Runcie said. "I would be speculating at this point if there were, but we didn't have any warnings. There weren't any phone calls or threats that we know of that were made."

On Thursday morning, Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after being questioned for hours by state and federal authorities. Weighing in at 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds and wearing a hospital gown after being treated for labored breathing, he was ordered held without bond and booked into jail.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 752108

Reported Deaths: 13816
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033831790
Lake558431013
Allen41736693
St. Joseph37007565
Hamilton36617417
Elkhart29425461
Tippecanoe22938228
Vanderburgh22565400
Porter19369327
Johnson18486389
Hendricks17696317
Clark13233195
Madison13176344
Vigo12631253
LaPorte12429221
Monroe12226176
Delaware10970198
Howard10349224
Kosciusko9643121
Hancock8578147
Bartholomew8174157
Warrick7864156
Floyd7815180
Grant7248179
Wayne7164201
Boone6979103
Morgan6768141
Dubois6224118
Marshall6214116
Cass6024110
Henry5903110
Dearborn589878
Noble581688
Jackson509476
Shelby502396
Lawrence4753122
Gibson445595
Clinton443555
Harrison441775
DeKalb440385
Montgomery439890
Whitley406744
Huntington403381
Steuben400859
Miami395769
Jasper389155
Knox377691
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Jefferson336186
White332753
Daviess3035100
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Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey274335
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Scott270356
Clay267148
Washington246336
Randolph245183
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Spencer234531
Starke228159
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Sullivan214843
Owen212358
Fulton204043
Jay201032
Carroll193820
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Perry187237
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Pike138334
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Pulaski120847
Newton114936
Brown104443
Benton102614
Crawford102516
Martin91815
Warren84115
Switzerland8158
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0424

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1109697

Reported Deaths: 20213
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1289521469
Cuyahoga1158802216
Hamilton814201251
Montgomery525861049
Summit484551006
Lucas43384824
Butler39098606
Stark33355930
Lorain25689506
Warren24612305
Mahoning22388602
Lake21219389
Clermont20138253
Delaware18892136
Licking16671225
Fairfield16589204
Trumbull16560483
Medina15618273
Greene15292248
Clark14244306
Wood13296200
Portage13254216
Allen11919239
Richland11611211
Miami10857225
Wayne9153225
Columbiana9039230
Muskingum8909135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8654251
Marion8649139
Erie8058165
Ashtabula7171179
Hancock6999133
Ross6948163
Geauga6850151
Scioto6540106
Belmont6159174
Union585049
Lawrence5741102
Jefferson5683159
Huron5554122
Sandusky5444126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5321109
Athens524460
Auglaize502487
Mercer487785
Shelby477095
Knox4573112
Madison444566
Ashland435997
Putnam4336104
Defiance432399
Fulton432274
Crawford4046110
Brown402761
Logan387678
Preble3859105
Clinton379266
Ottawa373581
Highland360266
Williams348578
Champaign344959
Guernsey325254
Jackson318454
Perry297350
Morrow291940
Fayette285750
Hardin275765
Henry273867
Holmes2703101
Coshocton269360
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240850
Wyandot234756
Hocking220663
Carroll197548
Paulding176642
Meigs148540
Monroe136345
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan110124
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
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