Ahead of his rampage inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz skipped school, telling a friend he was going to the movies.
James and Kimberly Snead, the couple who had housed Cruz since Thanksgiving at the request of their teenage son, said on Good Morning America the 19-year-old opted not to attend school on the day of the shooting.
“He said he didn’t go to school on Valentine’s Day,” James recalled to Good Morning America host Michael Strahan on Monday.
FULL INTERVIEW: "I still can’t believe what he’s done.” The family that took in the Florida shooting suspect speaks out, sitting down with @michaelstrahan in their first TV interview since the shooting: https://t.co/ACQcOyfQRq pic.twitter.com/axoxIzYEvf— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 19, 2018
Instead, Cruz sent text messages to their son telling him he was going to catch a movie.
“He told my son he was going to the movies,” James continued. “And he said he had something to tell him and my son pressed him, ‘What is it? What is it?’ and he said, ‘Nothing bad bro.’”
"The last text my son got was, ‘Yo,’ and that was it and that was about 2:18,” he revealed. It was the last text Cruz sent their teenage son, who attends the Parkland, Florida high school, roughly a half hour before he opened fire on students with an AR-15 rifle.
But aside from choosing to skip school that day, the Sneads said they noticed no other unusual activity by Cruz ahead of his confessed attack on students and staff.
“The SWAT team called me and asked if I knew where my son Nikolas was. And I said, ‘He’s not my son but I don’t know where he’s at,’” James said. “And at that point I got in touch with my son, who was fleeing the scene at that point, and a description came out and we put two and two together — me and my son — and we figured out what was happening."
The couple said their son, who knew nothing of Cruz’s plans, is having a difficult time processing what happened on Feb. 14.
“He’s angry, he’s betrayed, he’s upset. He was at school too and he had friends at that school," the parents said.
The shooting began just ahead of the afternoon dismissal bell, when Cruz allegedly pulled the fire alarm to herd students into the hallways before opening fire.
The Snead family is shocked but cooperating with police, their lawyer Jim Lewis said, and they are heartbroken for the families of the 17 victims in the Parkland, Florida, shooting.
“We’re devastated and I can’t imagine the pain [victims' families] must be feeling and nothing we can say is going to be any kind of help, but we’re very sorry that they’ve had this experience and it never should’ve happened," Kimberly said. "If we had known any of the things we are hearing… we feel betrayed as well and just shocked. It’s crushed everybody in our community."
Cruz is being held at Broward County Jail without bond and is expected to plead guilty to 17 counts of premeditated murder.