The family who took in the alleged Florida high school shooter said they are ‘hurting’.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, moved in with James and Kimberly Snead, and their 17-year-old son, in November last year after the troubled teen’s adopted mother Lynda Cruz died of pneumonia.
Cruz initially moved in with family friends the Deschamps but was kicked out after he refused to give up his guns.
He moved in with the Sneads around Thanksgiving and was still living at their home when he went on a murderous rampage on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 and injuring 15.
Lawyers for the family say they were stunned and ‘horrified’ by Cruz’s actions.
‘We are going through a lot,’ James Snead said outside his Parkland home Friday. ‘We are hurting right now.’
Cruz faced court briefly on Thursday as he was officially charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder over the high school shooting massacre
‘They had no idea that this kid was capable of this,’ family lawyer Jim Lewis told the Palm Beach Post.
‘They were just trying to give him a place to live, and now the world has gone crazy.’
The Sneads say that when Cruz moved in, he already a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, which they allowed him to keep on condition he kept it in a lockbox.
The couple , whose own 17-year-old son attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and knew Cruz, survived the shooting.
The Sneads have all but gone into hiding since the attack, and Kimberly, who came out in tears, just asked to be left alone.
‘I have no comment,’ she told The New York Post outside her home Friday morning. ‘Please respect my family and my privacy now.’
Cruz suffered a major personal tragedy in November when his adoptive mother Lynda Cruz, 68, (pictured with one of her sons) died of pneumonia
Rocxanne Deschamps, 42, initially took Cruz in after the death of his mother but kicked him out for having a gun
According to police records, cops were called to the Cruz family home 39 times since 2010
The Sneads – who live in a small, isolated and run down home, told their lawyer they had no idea Cruz was capable of such an atrocity.
‘They didn’t see anything in this kid, that he was a danger or that he harbored any ill feelings toward the high school,’ Lewis told the Palm Beach Post.
‘This family is heart-broken. The family brought him into their home, they got him a job at a local dollar store. They didn’t see anything that would suggest any violence. He was depressed, maybe a little quirky. But they never saw anything violent. … He was just a little depressed and seemed to be working through
They knew that Cruz owned the AR-15 but made him keep it locked up in a cabinet and never saw him go to a shooting range with it. He did have the key, however.
Cruz passed a background check and legally purchased the semi-automatic rifle from a dealer in Florida in February 2017.
A neighbor filmed Nikolas Cruz doing target practice in a backyard while shirtless and wearing a Make America Great Again cap in the months before the deadly Florida high school shooting
Cruz is seen briefly outside appearing to fire shots before retreating into the home
During the three months Cruz lived there, he was respectful and quiet but also sad over his mother’s death, Lewis said.
‘No indication that anything severe like this was wrong,’ Lewis told AP. ‘Just a mildly troubled kid who’d lost his mom. He totally kept this from everybody.
‘The mother said if they had any suspicious that he was violent, was capable of anything like this, he would have never stepped foot in her house.’
The Sneads descriptions of the alleged gunman are vastly different from those of his classmates and former neighbors who described him as a disturbed loner who boasted about his gun collection and hurting animals.
Rocxanne Deschamps, 42, a family friend of the Cruzes who took Nikolas and his younger brother Zachary after their mother died, revealed she had thrown him out, ‘Cause [sic] he bought a gun and wanted to bring it into my house.’
She added: ‘I got him to go live with a friend of his and I never got any money from his mother.
Cruz’s Instagram is filled with disturbing posts of what appears to be himself showing off weapons, his face sometimes covered, along with other disturbing images and captions
In one Instragram post, Cruz posted a screengrab of Google search results for ‘what does allahu akbar’ mean. Allahu Akbar means ‘God is great’ in Arabic, and is something Islamist terrorist often shout before attacks. He captioned the photo: ‘Well at least we know what it means when a [racial lslur] says ‘allahu akbar’ [laughing face emojis].’
Cause for concern: ‘I’m going to be a professional school shooter.’ wrote Cruz on a video that had been shared by YouTube vlogger Ben Bennight (Cruz’s comment above)
‘Violence and gun not accepted in my house!’
Cruz was supposed to go to GED classes on the morning of the shooting, but when his friend’s father woke him up to drop him off on his way to work, the teen said something to the effect of: ‘It’s Valentine’s Day. I don’t go to school on Valentine’s Day,’ according to the lawyer.
‘They just blew it off,’ Lewis said. ‘This is some 19-year-old that didn’t want to get up and go to school that day, and (they) left it at that.’
Despite the family saying they saw no indication, the troubled teen had already begun showing what may have been warning signs he was bent on violence.
The 19-year-old got expelled last year from the high school for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.
As investigators tried to establish the motive for Wednesday’s shooting rampage, students and neighbors portrayed Cruz as an often strange and hostile figure who threatened others, talked about killing animals, and posed with guns in disturbing photos on social media.
The vigil began with a moment of silence for those slain at the school
Hundreds of people attended a heartbreaking vigil for the 17 shooting victims in Florida on Thursday night
Benjamin Bennight, a Mississippi bail bondsman, was concerned enough after seeing the ‘professional school shooter’ comment on his Youtube channel that he took a screenshot of it on his phone and called the FBI.
Two FBI agents visited Bennight the next day, but authorities said they never spoke to the Florida teen.
‘No other information was included in the comment which would indicate a particular time, location or the true identity of the person who posted the comment,’ said Brett Carr, a spokesman for the FBI office in Jackson, Mississippi.
‘The FBI conducted database reviews and other checks but was unable to further identify the person who posted the comment.’
Cruz was taken into custody without issue after around an hour of eluding police. He stormed into the high school at about 2pm on Wednesday and opened fire
Math teacher Jim Gard told The Miami Herald that Cruz may have been seen as a potential threat well before the rampage. Gard said he believes the school had sent out an email warning teachers that Cruz shouldn’t be allowed on campus with a backpack.
‘There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus,’ Gard told the newspaper.
Cruz was getting treatment at a mental health clinic for a while but hadn’t been there for more than a year, Broward County Mayor Beam Furr told CNN.
Cruz’s attorney, Melisa McNeill, said after a court hearing Thursday on the murder charges against the young man that Cruz was sad and remorseful and ‘just a broken human being.’
‘When you don’t have the support system, that affects who you are, and that affects the people around you,’ McNeill said.
‘And when your brain is not fully developed you don’t know how to deal with these things.’
Florida gunman Nikolas Cruz’s arrest affidavit
The complaint affidavit against Nikolas Jacob Cruz reveals he has been charged with 17 counts of pre-meditated murder and confirms both of his parents are dead.
The documents say that at 2.23pm on February 14, multiple 911 calls were received of a shooting taking place at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Cruz’s height is give as 5’87, his weight as 128 lbs and birthplace United States of America.
The affidavit outlines the chain of events that happened during the Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School massacre
According to the document, Cruz was first spotted by an unnamed witness after arriving by Uber
Both of Cruz’s parents are deceased and he is living with a family, who give him his own room
The affidavit states that Cruz admitted being the shooter and that he planned to blend in with crowd after carrying out the killings
Cruz was charged with a total of 17 counts of premeditated murder relating to the shootings
Cruz made his first court appearance accompanied by a public defender
‘Multiple deceased persons were observed at the scene,’ read the affidavit, which continues that ‘the shooter attempted to blend in with fleeing students and was able to elude arriving officers’.
A sworn statement from a witness, whose name was redacted, said he recognized Cruz as a ‘troubled former student’ who arrived in a ‘small goldish colored vehicle’
The witness stated Cruz was wearing a maroon shirt, black pants and a black hat and was carrying a black duffel bag and black backpack. He was walking ‘purposefully’ towards school buildings the witness said.
‘Within a minute he heard gunshots and called a “Code Red” indicating an emergency on campus,’ the affidavit reads.
According to the affidavit, both Cruz’s parents are deceased and he was staying with a family who have given him his own room in their house.
‘Cruz stated that he was the gunman and entered the school campus armed with an AR-15 and began shooting students that he saw on the hallways and on the school grounds’.
‘Cruz admitted that as students began to flee on foot he decided to plan to discard the AR-15 and vest with additional magazines so he could blend in with the crowd.’