Attorney for family that took in FL shooting suspect after his adoptive mother passed away last year says they knew he had an assault rifle.February 15, 2018
The family took in Nikolas Cruz after his mother died in November and allegedly told him his rifle must be locked in a gun safe.
"It was in a locked gun safe. That was the condition when he came into their home, that the gun was locked away," the family's lawyer, Jim Lewis, told ABC News.
This family took Cruz, who was good friends with their son, into their home after his mother died last November, Lewis said.
"They're hurt and shocked," Lewis said. "They're just like everybody else, trying to make some sense of this and trying to figure out why."
Cruz had an AR-15 style rife that had apparently been legally purchased, according to law enforcement.
Cruz's mother, Lynda, died in November after contracting the flu, which turned into pneumonia. Cruz's father reportedly died years ago, according to CNN.
In a separate report, The New York Times reported that Lynda Cruz used to resort to calling the police to have them come to their home and calm down Nikolas.
"I think she wanted to scare them a little bit," Helen Pasciolla, the Cruz family's neighbor, told the paper. "Nikolas has behavioral problems, I think, but I never thought he would be violent."
Cruz, who had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year after an alleged fight with his ex-girlfriend's boyfriend and for other "disciplinary reasons," entered the school located just 50 miles from Miami just before dismissal on Wednesday, Feb. 14. He was armed with his AR-15 rifle, several magazines, a gas mask, and smoke grenades, allegedly pulling the fire alarm before opening fire.
Students and teachers at the school described the teenager as a "loner" who threatened and harassed peers, posed with guns in photos posted to social media, bragged about target practice, and talked about killing animals.
Jim Gard, a math teacher at the high school, claimed that Cruz may have previously been identified as a threat and that school officials had sent staff an email stating that the 19-year-old shouldn't be allowed onto school grounds with a backpack.
"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 managed to flee the scene by blending in with other students evacuating after the shooting. He was located and arrested within two hours near a home a short distance from the school and taken to the hospital for labored breathing.0comments
He was booked into Broward County Jail Thursday morning on charges of premeditated murder.
The shooting left 17 students and adults dead and wounded 14 others. Among the first victims to be identified are athletic director Chris Hixon and football coach and security guard Aaron Feis, who has been hailed as a hero after stepping in front of bullets to shield students.