New evidence shows the Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz showed many red flags but all went unreported by neighbors, friends and even family members.
Cruz, who has confessed to the massacre, has a disturbing list of violent acts, including a time when he expressed a wish to become a school shooter on YouTube.
About one year before he shot up Stoneman Douglas High School, Cruz told the mother of a student at the school that he would shoot up the campus — a statement Giovanna Cantone dismissed.
Cantone was at a Dollar Tree store to pick up her daughter who went to school with Cruz. The teenager was also working as a cashier at the store when he was approached by Cantone, who tried to console him from being expelled from the school.
“I said you know what, let bygones be bygones. Let it go,” she told. “I said there are other options out there.”
The mother encouraged Cruz to complete his high school diploma online and told him, “You can take as long as you like...put a little ease on you.”
Instead of taking her advice to heart, according to Cantone, Cruz said, “Thanks for the tip. He says, ‘I can do that’ … or he says, ‘I go shoot them. I can go shoot them and you know I can shoot you too.’”
Shocked, Cantone told Cruz not to talk like that and listen to her. She did not report the incident to the police because she considered his remarks to be just another stupid things said by a “young kid.”
"But when I left I was like frightened," she said and later told her daughter to be careful around Cruz. Even though she never called 911, the mother felt “he was talking kind of crazy...I didn't really think he was going to do this."
Ina, her daughter, also overheard the conversation and she thought he was just joking since she had never heard him talk like that before.
The mother-daughter duo is now sorry they did not report the incident immediately.
Zachary, Cruz’s brother, said he also used to overhear the19-year-old man talking about killing people. Zachary was once scrolling through his brother’s cell phone and chanced upon alarming messages on an app called Kik. Apparently Cruz had been texting himself, sending messages like “I'm gonna kill them. I'm gonna go to that school. I'm gonna shoot everybody,” Zachary said.
“I read it and I was like wow, I should tell someone about this,” Zachary told investigators. “But I was like, he's not serious. In my head I'm like, he's not serious about this. He's… trying to get attention...but also, like, this thing in my head is, why would he just be telling himself this?”
He told investigators he brushed it off since the two would often joke about such stuff.
Cruz’s foster mother Rocxanne Deschamps, who took in the two brothers said the man’s violent moods went out of control when his mother died. Then something “switched.” Her son, Rock Deschamps-Letang, said Cruz “threatened many people to kill, kill, kill … He has fantasies — very, very bad fantasies of killing.”
Cruz fired a gun in the house several times. Neighbors also testified he was fond of shooting up squirrels, chickens, bottles and buckets in the yard with his BB gun.
A student who sat next to Cruz in engineering class said the shooter would spend his time on the school computers, looking up disturbing things.
“One time, it was ‘how to make a nail bomb,” the teen said, calling it “very, very scary stuff.” In another instance, the 19-year-old man reportedly commended the Pulse nightclub shooting, which resulted in the deaths of 49 club-goers.
“Did you hear what happened in Orlando?” Cruz allegedly asked his classmate. “I'm so glad they killed all those gay people.”
Another student, who said she was a friend of Cruz at school, said “He used to bring like dead animals to classes ‘cause he’s like a hunter so he used to kill birds, squirrels, and cut their heads off. Bring them in school bags.”
Dana Craig, another young woman who had known Cruz for years, said he was dating her friend. However, when he started physically abusing her, Craig told her friend to call it off. After her friend broke up with him, Cruz threatened Craig, telling her “I'm going to kill and rape you and find your family and kill them.”
She also said that other students in the school also reported disturbing incidents about the man.
“They would be like yeah he did this, he did that and we reported it or didn't report it,” she said. “He was violent toward other people.”
Perhaps if more people had reported Cruz’s disturbing behavior, the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School could have been averted.
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