After shooting more than 100 rounds of ammunition and claiming 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, confessed school shooter Nikolas Cruz ditched his weaponry and headed to Subway then McDonald's.
According to arrest reports, the 19-year-old fled the scene by getting rid of his AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and blending in with a crowd of terrified evacuating students. He then casually walked to a Walmart, where he bought a drink at the Subway inside.
Then he walked to McDonald's, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference Thursday. About 40 minutes after leaving the McDonald's, Cruz was confronted by a police officer who recognized his description and taken into custody.
Cruz then told detectives that "he was the gunman who entered the school campus ... and began shooting students he saw in the hallways," according to court papers filed Thursday.
"Cruz stated that he brought additional loaded magazines to the school campus and kept them hidden in a backpack until he got on campus to begin his assault," according to an arrest affidavit.
The subdued, handcuffed suspect made his first court appearance on 17 charges of premeditated murder on Thursday. Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit with his head slightly lowered, Cruz said only "yes, ma'am" when addressed by Judge Kim Theresa Mollica.
Mollica ordered Cruz held without bond on 17 counts of murder. His attorney, public defender Melissa McNeill, stood with her arm around Cruz and did not contest the order.
McNeill described Cruz, who was on suicide watch in jail, as a "broken child" who suffered brain developmental problems and depression. She said he was "sad, mournful and remorseful" over the killings and that "he is fully aware of what is going on."
Expelled from the high school last year for fighting, Cruz returned Wednesday with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition for his semiautomatic weapon. Police say he arrived at the school via an Uber ride.
Authorities say he triggered a fire alarm in a building that normally serves freshmen students, then roamed the school's hallways — from first floor to third — opening fire on students pouring into hallways.
Before Cruz opened fire, a freshman claims that Cruz told him "things are gonna start getting messy."
“You’d better get out of here,” Chris McKenna, who had been walking down the hallway to use the bathroom when he bumped into the gunman, claims Cruz said. “Things are gonna start getting messy.”
McKenna says that he then fled out of the building, eventually running into assistant football coach and security guard Aaron Feis.
“I told him I saw a gun,” McKenna said. “He said ‘let me go check it out.’ Then he drove me to the baseball field, dropped me off, and went back to the school. That’s the last I saw of him.”
Feis later lost his life using his body to shield students from bullets. He was hailed as a hero, along with other teachers and faculty who gave their lives to protect their students. In the end, three faculty members and 14 students' lives were claimed by Cruz. Click here to read more about the victims and click here to learn how to help.