Nikolas Cruz is accused of killing 17 people at a Florida high school on Wednesday, February 14
The teen suspected of killing 17 people at a Florida high school was a member of the school’s rifle team, which received grants from the National Rifle Association Foundation.
Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old authorities say gunned down more than a dozen people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, competed on the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the school.
Former JROTC cadets told the Associated Press that Cruz would train with the four-person varsity marksmanship team after class and traveled to other schools in the area to compete.
‘He was a very good shot,’ former cadet Aaron Diener said.
The 20-year-old said he would give Cruz a ride to the shooting competitions when they were both on the team in 2016.
The 19-year-old was a member of the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida
A former cadet said Cruz ‘was a very good shot’ and liked to talk about his AR-15 and pistols . Pictured is a stash of weapons Cruz posted on his Instagram page
The JROTC Cruz was on was supported by the National Rifle Association Foundation. The program received a $10,000 grant in 2016
‘He had an AR-15 he talked about, and pistols,’ he told the AP.
When Cruz was arrested, he was wearing a maroon t-shirt with the JROTC’s logo on it.
The JROTC marksmanship program uses air rifles special-made for target shooting, typically on indoor ranges at targets the size of a small coin. The program, according to the school’s website, is to teach students ‘character education, student achievement, wellness, leadership, and diversity’.
Records show that the school’s program was backed by the National Rifle Association Foundation and received a $10,827 non-cash grant from the organization’s fundraising and charitable arm in 2016, when Cruz was on the team.
That same year Cruz was awarded the N-1-3 Academic Achievement Ribbon for maintaining a grade ‘A’ in JROTC and a grade ‘B’ in his other academic classes, according to a Facebook post by the school’s program.
While Cruz was in the JROTC he was awarded the N-1-3 Academic Achievement Ribbon for maintaining a grade ‘A’ in JROTC and a grade ‘B’ in his other academic classes. Pictured is a target with bullet holes Cruz posted on his Instagram
Authorities said Cruz had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High last year for disciplinary reasons
When Cruz was arrested, pictured above, he was wearing a JROTC t-shirt
The NRA Foundation gave nearly $2.2million to schools across 30 states in 2016. A total of 18 schools in Florida received aid from the organization, more than any other state.
In the Broward County School District, which includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas, four other high schools received grants or donations from the NRA.
The day of the shooting, student Colton Haab told the Sun Sentinel that he led more than 90 of his classmates into a JROTC room to protect them from the gunman.
The 17-year-old said he called a retired police officer friend to walk him through what to do to keep everyone safe and with the help of First Sgt. John Navarra, a certified ROTC instructor, they had students hid in the closet behind Kevlar, a material used for marksmanship practice that resembles the material used in bullet-proof vests.
The students then armed themselves with a fire extinguisher and a two-by-four in case Cruz came into the room, but he never did.
Cruz, pictured walking into the Broward County Jail, was charged with 17 counts of murder
‘Honestly, I wish I could have saved more people,’ he said. ‘I wish we could have gotten more people in the classroom.;
Authorities said Cruz, who was expelled from Stoneman Douglas last year for disciplinary reasons, opened fire on students and staff at the school with an AR-15 military-style carbine in the Wednesday massacre. He was charged with 17 counts of murder.