Nikolas Cruz, the suspected gunman in the Florida school shooting, allegedly harassed peers, bragged about guns, and talked about killing animals, students say.
The suspect in the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has been described as a “loner” by students who say he threatened and harassed his peers, posed with guns in photos posted to social media, bragged about target practice, and talked about killing animals, the Boston Globe reports.
“There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus,” Jim Gard, a math teacher at the school, said, adding that Cruz may have been identified as a potential threat and that school officials had sent an email to staff regarding the 19-year-old.
“I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him,” student Dakota Mutchler, 17, said, describing disturbing pictures that Cruz had posted to Instagram in which he talked about killing animals and doing target practice in his backyard.
Cruz, who had been expelled from the school last year for fighting and other “disciplinary reasons,” returned to his former high school on Wednesday, Feb. 14, armed with an AR-15 rifle, several magazines, a gas mask, and smoke grenades. After pulling the fire alarm, he opened fire as students began spilling into the hallways, killing 17 students and adults, including athletic director Chris Hixon and football coach and security guard Aaron Feis.
Cruz managed to flee the scene by blending in with other students, but he was later arrested a short distance from the school near a home and taken to a hospital before being transferred to a police station.
Cruz is a rare case, as the suspects in these tragedies are not usually captured alive. He has since been charged with premeditated murder.