The suspect arrested in connection with Wednesday’s shooting at a Florida high school, which left at least 17 people dead, was identified by the sheriff as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz. Credit via WPTV
In the hours after the shooting, people who knew Mr. Cruz described him as a “troubled kid” who enjoyed showing off his firearms, bragging about killing animals and whose mother would resort to calling the police to have them come to their home to try to talk some sense into him.
“He always had guns on him,” the student, who did not give his name,?told WFOR-TV. “The crazy stuff that he did was not right for school, and he got kicked out of school multiple times for that kind of stuff.”
In the interview with the Miami news station, the student said Mr. Cruz was a junior at Stoneman Douglas High School when he was expelled last year. He said that students would joke that if anyone were to open fire inside the school, it would be Mr. Cruz. Because of that, students feared him and mostly stayed away from him, the student said.
“A lot of people were saying that it would be him,” the student told WFOR-TV. “They would say he would be the one to shoot up the school. Everyone predicted it.”
Brandon Minoff, a student at Stoneman Douglas High School, said in an interview with CNN that a teacher assigned him to work with Mr. Cruz on a group project two years ago. Mr. Cruz was quiet in class but opened up during their project, Mr. Minoff said, telling him that he had been kicked out of two private schools, had been held back twice and aspired to join the military.
“He was always to himself and never tried to associate himself with anyone,” Mr. Minoff said. “As far as I know, he didn’t have any friends.”
She said that Mr. Cruz has a brother, Zachary, and that both boys were adopted. Their adoptive father died some years ago, she added.
Ms. Pasciolla said that the boys’ mother, Lynda Cruz, had regular problems with their behavior. On occasion, she said, the mother would resort to calling the police to have them come over to try to talk some sense into her sons.
“I think she wanted to scare them a little bit,” Ms. Pasciolla said. “Nikolas has behavioral problems, I think, but I never thought he would be violent.”