A Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student received countless threats from Nikolas Cruz in the two years before the shooting on Feb. 14, and now he's sharing his story and encouraging others to report threats early on.
Enea Sabadini, 17, dealt with harsh words, racial epithets, online harassment and even physical attacks from Cruz starting in 2016. Sabadini spoke about his experience on ABC News on Thursday, explaining that he had reported some of his interactions with Cruz to the school, but others, he just didn't take seriously.
"If I was able to go back, I would have gone and reported him to police and told my mother about it," Sabadini said.
He told reporters that he first interacted with Cruz in August of 2016. At the time, Cruz sent Sabadini a direct message on Instagram, telling him to stay away from his ex-girlfriend. Sabadini has just begun seeing the girl. He said he didn't respond to the message at all.
"I was confused why, because I hadn’t had any prior problems with this person," he said. "At first, I didn’t answer back at all."
The girl, who asked to remain anonymous, reportedly told Sabadini to ignore the messages, even when they began to include racial slurs and threats of violence and murder. Sabadini said that the girl told him Cruz was "misunderstood," though she admitted he had been "violent and abusive" toward her.
Less than a month later, shortly after school began, Cruz reportedly approached Sabadini at school and apologized. "I think he knew where I sat with my friends in the mornings, so as I was walking toward my usual area, he pulled me aside to apologize," Sabadini said. "I accepted his apology and everything was cool."
Less than a week later, the online harassment resumed. Cruz threatened Sabadini and his friends in the messages, utterly confusing the younger boy. This time, he and his friends reported everything to the school. It's unclear whether the school pursued the report or disciplined Cruz in any way.
Not long after, Sabadini said that Cruz followed him and his friends on their way home from school. He began yelling at Sabadini to stop talking to his ex-girlfriend.
"We almost get into a fight, but I decide it’s not worth it and I walk away," Sabadini said. Then Cruz charged the younger boy, holding pencils in each hand like daggers. Sabaini said he made a run for it, outpacing Cruz. In a report by Buzzfeed News, he added that he taunted Cruz for not being able to keep up with him, and Cruz responded with vitriol.
“While he was chasing me down the street, he also called me a n— multiple times,” Sabadini told the other outlet.
Their next confrontation ended in suspensions for both Cruz and Sabadini. Sabadini said that Cruz approached him during lunch. Their fight was captured in a cell phone video.
"I don’t know why he came up behind me and decided to fight me that day," Sabadini told ABC News. "I was tired of all the things he had been doing to me and my friends."
The threats and harassment eventually petered off, and Cruz was expelled in the spring of 2017. Sabadini said he didn't hear from Cruz again until he received some barely coherent messages "out of the blue" in the early morning hours of Aug. 17.
Screenshots of the messages have been published on Buzzfeed News. They're filled with racist slurs, violent threats and confessional rants.
"You underground hispanic wall jumper ill (sic) will f—ing destroy you," Cruz wrote. Sabadini noted that he is Italian and African American, so the racism seems to be ambiguous and misdirected.
Cruz included a photo of several rifles laid out on his bed, with the message "Dont f— with me!!!!!"
"You have no idea what iam (sic) capable of," Cruz writes.
"Iam (sic) going to f—ing kill you."
"Iam (sic) going to watch ypu (sic) bleed.”
"I am going to shoot you dead."
Sabadini responded mainly with sarcasm, which failed to deescalate Cruz. "Hey man you should take a cold shower to calm down, I here (sic) they are refreshing," he wrote.
He told ABC News that, apart from taking screenshots, he did nothing about the messages. "I did not really think much because he was no longer going to our school," Sabadini said. "I just thought nothing of it at the time."
However, when he heard that there was an active shooter on campus on Feb. 14, Sabadini said he was sure it was Cruz. "I wasn’t surprised," he said. Sabadini said he knew three of the students who were killed personally.
Sabadini's mother, Mayi Sabadini, told the outlet that she believes her son's story is an important part of the community's process for dealing with this tragedy.0comments
"Even though Nikolas wanted to kill my son, I believe he’s the 18th victim. His life is over, too. He is obviously very, very troubled," she told ABC News in a separate interview.
"Kids have to tell their parents about any threat, every single threat. We know that now," she said. "There are many other troubled, sick kids like Nikolas at other schools. I feel very lucky my son is alive."