The family who took Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz into their home in November after his mother died said they thought they had the only key to the gun safe where his AR-15 rifle was stored.
The 19-year-old used the assault rifle to kill 17 and injure more than a dozen more in a shooting last Wednesday at his old high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland.
After their adoptive mother died on November 1 from pneumonia, Cruz and his brother moved in with a family friend. But the situation didn’t work out for Cruz and he asked to move in with the Sneads, the family of a former classmate.
James and Kimberly Snead appeared on Good Morning America Monday morning, and revealed that one of the stipulations of Cruz moving in was that he had to store his gun in a gun safe.
‘I thought I had the only key to the gun safe,’ James Snead said.
Kimberly and James Snead, the couple who took Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz into his home when his mom died in November, spoke out on Good Morning America on Monday
The Sneads said they thought they had the only key to the gun safe where Cruz’s AR-15 was stored at their house. Cruz is pictured in orange, during his bond hearing last week
Mr Snead said he had met Cruz a few times before he moved in with them.
‘He was very polite. He seemed normal,’ he said.
During the three months that Cruz was living with them, the Sneads say he asked to get into the safe just twice.
‘Once I said yes because he wanted to clean it…and another time he asked and I said no, it wasn’t a good time,’ Mr Snead, a military intelligence analyst, said.
When pressed about why he turned Cruz down the second time he wanted to get into the safe, Mr Snead said: ‘I don’t know what the situation was in the house it just wasn’t a good time. I don’t know if we were getting ready to leave or getting ready to sit down for dinner or something but it wasn’t a good time.’
I still can’t process it, what he’s done. Because this wasn’t the person that we knew, not at all.
The couple said they didn’t have a problem with Cruz having a gun in the house because ‘he followed the rules’.
‘They weren’t allowed to be out if we weren’t home or one of us wasn’t home and he knew that and to our knowledge he never had them out,’ Kimberly Snead, a neonatal intensive care nurse, said.
They added that they were blindsided by Cruz’s actions, and had no idea about his troubled history – including the dozens of times cops were called to his mom’s house for domestic violence incidents and his treatment for mental illness.
‘Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know. We had rules and he followed every rule to a T,’ Mr Snead said.
The couple also detailed their brief interaction with Cruz after the shooting, when he was led by them at the police station after his arrest.
Mrs Snead was so angry at Cruz that she tried to physically lash out at him and had to be held back.
In this Feb. 17, 2018 photo, James Snead and his wife Kimberly appear at an interview about the shooting at Marjory Stonemason Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed
The Sneads recounted their time living with the shooter, Nikolas Cruz. The couple said they didn’t see his dark side
Kimberly and James said Cruz lived with them for only three months. They took him in after his mother died
Her husband said that Cruz tried to apologize to them.
‘I went after him. I really wanted to strangle him more than anything,’ Mrs Snead said.
She continued: ‘Everything I wanted to say I tried to reserve. I said, “Really Nik, really?” I yelled at him and he mumbled something but I didn’t hear it —
‘He said he was sorry,’ Mr Snead said.
‘But I didn’t hear that. I was just furious and heartbroken. Absolutely just heartbroken. Devastated. I still can’t process it, what he’s done. Because this wasn’t the person that we knew, not at all,’ Mrs Snead said
The couple said Nikolas appeared normal and that they’re just now learning about his dark side, including his multiple Instagram accounts – which included pictures of mutilated animals.
This booking photo obtained February 15, 2018 courtesy of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office shows shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz
‘We knew that he had one Instagram account…I guess that would be the normal one. These other Instagram accounts that he had, we had no idea about, my son had no idea about.
‘As far as the animal killings, he never did anything like that at our house. We have animals and he loved our animals and our animals loved him,’ Mr Snead said.
His wife added: ‘I’m very much an animal person. Anyone who knows me knows that. There’s no way I’d let anybody in my house if I thought [they were] torturing animals. At all.’
The couple said the only thing that was off about Cruz before the shooting was that he skipped school on Wednesday.
‘He said he didn’t go to school on Valentine’s day,’ Mr Snead said.
Cruz also sent their son a cryptic text message, saying that he was going to the movies and needed to talk to him.
‘My son pressed him, saying “What is it? What is it?” And he said, “Nothing bad, bro.” And that was it. He said he was going to the movies, and then the last text my son got was “Yo” and that was it. And that was about 2:18pm I believe,’ Mr Snead said.
The shooting started about half an hour later.
Their first indication that anything was wrong was when a SWAT team officer called Mr Snead and asked where his son Nikolas was at.
‘I said he’s not my son but I don’t know where he’s at. And at that point I got in touch with my son who was fleeing the scene at that point. And a description came out and we put two and two together, my and my son, and we figured out what was happening,’ Mr Snead said.
When he realized the shooter might by Cruz, Mr Snead grew afraid for his wife, who was sleeping at home at the time.
So he called the SWAT officer back and asked that they send a team to their home to check in on her.
The couple are still processing what happened and said they feel for the families of the 17 victims.
‘Nothing I can say will heal them. We hurt for them deeply,’ Mr Snead said.
‘We’re devastated, and I can’t imagine the paint they must be feeling,’ his wife added. ‘We’re very sorry that had this experience and it never should have happened…We feel betrayed as well and just shocked. It’s crushed everybody.’
In another interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel, a wearied Kimberly said: ‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know.’
The expelled ‘gun-obsessed’ student was taken into custody by the time the Sneads saw him on February 14
Pictured above is the Snead’s Parkland home where Cruz lived for just three months before he shot dead 17 people at his high school in a Valentine’s massacre
‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know,’ Kimberly said of Cruz
The Snead couple (shown) claims the night prior to the Valentine’s Day shooting, there was no indication Cruz had unusual behavior
The couple told the local newspaper in a sit-down interview they knew Cruz had been ‘extremely depressed’ after the death of his adoptive mother.
They said he was noticeably ‘immature’ but seemed to be ‘growing happier’ after moving into a new home.
Cruz had unusual eating habits and at times would place cookies inside steak and cheese sandwiches.
Kimberly reportedly encouraged Cruz to attend therapy sessions after the passing of his adoptive mother.
She said just five days before the shooting, she and Cruz attended a session together.
Despite the couple’s claims they didn’t notice his disturbing behavior, the teen was expelled from school last year, while neighbors and friends revealed details of his love for violence and weapons.
Police had been called to Cruz’s homes as many as 39 times over the course of seven years over reports of violence or suspicious behavior.
Pictured: Cruz as a baby with his adoptive mother, Lynda Cruz. Lynda died from pneumonia on November 1 before her son moved in with the new family=