Nikolas Cruz, the man who killed 17 people on Wednesday in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, had a long history of posting troubling things online, including evidence that he had a hobby of murdering small animals.
"Theses [sic] things killed my dog.So i kill them pretty much," Cruz wrote in the caption of the bloody picture, adding the hashtag "killing toads."
Since Cruz opened fire inside his former high school with an AR-15 assault rifle, people and reporters have been combing through his trail online and across social media, looking for warning signs that were missed. Reporters from CNN gained access to a private group chat, where Cruz was one of just six members.
The members of the private chat wouldn't confirm their ages or identities, though reporters believe they're all 18 or under. The chat was predominately a place to discuss racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and homophobic beliefs, as well as the purchase of firearms, weapons and other accessories.
Cruz purchased his AR-15 about a year before he used it in the tragic attack on Stoneman Douglas High. The gun was a constant topic of conversation in the group chat, where members discussed how to hold it and which upgrades to buy for it. Cruz described using his small arsenal of guns to kill birds on several occasions in the group chat.
After Cruz's attack, his friends in the group chat admitted that they were "worried" he might have killed endangered animals, according to reporters who had access.
"He seemed nice but also had some mental issues," one member told reporters. "All [I know] is that he likes guns and really hates liberals."
Cruz confessed to the murders at Stoneman Douglas High during an interview with investigators shortly after he was taken into custody. he appeared in court on Thursday, less than 24 hours after the shooting. Judge Kim Theresa Mollica ordered that he be held without bond. He was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Cruz plans to plead guilty in court, according to his public defender, who did not rule out the possibility that his client would receive the death penalty.
Cruz was captured alive at a home not from from the school, within two hours after the shooting began. Police speculate he was able to blend in among the students fleeing the scene.