The family who took in confessed Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz admitted that the 19-year-old kept guns in the house, but they thought they had the only key to the safe.
James and Kimberly Snead told Good Morning America's Michael Strahan that they were aware of Cruz's weapons when he moved into their house around Thanksgiving, shortly after his adopted mother died of pneumonia. The family allowed him to keep the guns on the condition that they would be stored in a gun safe, with James holding the key.
"I thought I had the only key to the gun safe," James said 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
During the nearly three months Cruz lived with them at the request of his friend, their teenage son, the Sneads said Cruz asked to get into the safe twice.
"Once I said yes because he wanted to clean it... and another time he asked and I said no, it wasn't a good time," James said. "I don't know what the situation was in the house it just wasn't a good time. I don't know if we were getting ready to leave or getting ready to sit down for dinner or something but it wasn't a good time."
The couple said they had no problem with Cruz keeping a gun in the house because "he followed the rules."
"They weren't allowed to be out if we weren't home or one of us wasn't home and he knew that and to our knowledge he never had them out," Kimberly added.
The Sneads said they were blindsided by Cruz's attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, adding that he showed no signs of being a violent or troubled person during his time in their home.
“Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know,” James said, referencing Cruz's apparent affinity for killing animals and using his guns and knives, as shown on his social media accounts. “We had rules and he followed every rule to a T.”
The Sneads said they noticed nothing unusual about Cruz's behavior leading up to his confessed attack on the Parkland, Florida, school, aside from his absence at his own school on Wednesday. “He said he didn’t go to school on Valetine’s Day,” James said of Cruz's decision to skip their morning ride to school.
“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."
Snead said Cruz texted his teenage son in the hours leading up to the school shooting, telling him he was going to the movies.
“[Cruz] told my son he was going to the movies. 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,” the family revealed. The shooting began roughly a half hour later, when Cruz pulled the fire alarms to herd students into the hallways before firing rounds from his AR-15 rifle. His gunfire killed 17 people, including students and staff.
Cruz is being held at Broward County Jail on 17 counts of premeditated murder, charges for which he is expected to plead guilty after confessing to the crime.