Nikolas Cruz is pictured in a social media photograph taken before the shooting. Fresh details of how he executed it and how he spared the teenage son of the family he was living with have emerged
Nikolas Cruz exchanged a string of text messages with the teenage son of the family who had taken him in before he opened fire on Stoneman Douglas school, it has been revealed.
Before opening fire on the high school in Parkland, Cruz texted back and forth with the unnamed Snead teenager.
During their exchange, he asked him what classroom he was in and who the teacher was.
It is likely it was a deliberate effort to spare his life – the teen was not harmed.
The texting began at 2pm, 20 minutes before he fired his first shots.
Jim Lewis, the family’s attorney, described them to DailyMail.com on Thursday.
Cruz sent them from the back of the Uber he called to drive him to the school.
In the first messages, Cruz asked the teenager what classroom he was in then who the teacher was. When he replied to say it was a coach, Cruz asked him to ask the man if he remembered who he was.
In the next text, Cruz said he was going to a movie then said he had ‘something big to tell’ the boy, according to the Snead family’s attorney Jim Lewis.
When the teenager asked him what it was, he replied to the effect of: ‘Nothing bad, no big deal,’ Lewis said.
Cruz’s final text was at 2.18pm, two minutes before the shooting began. It contained a single word: ‘Yo’.
The teenager texted him back several times but got no response.
His next texts were to his father, James, once the shooting had begun. In those messages to his father, he described other students telling him ‘that it is Nik’.
James Snead then received a call from Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputies who asked him if he had a son called Nikolas. He replied that he did not but that Cruz was living with them.
At the time, he was driving to Stoneman Douglas to collect his son.
Kimberly and James Snead are pictured leaving court in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday after testifying in front of the grand jury which later indicted Cruz, who they allowed to live with him after his mother died, on capital murder charges. Their unnamed teenage son is who he was exchanging text messages with before the shooting spree
The next time they saw Cruz was later that night in custody. They had gone to the sheriff’s office to give statements when they saw him from afar.
He mouthed ‘I’m sorry’ to them.
Sorry doesn’t cut it. Sorry is for when you don’t clean your room, not when you slaughter 17 people
Jim Lewis, attorney for the Snead family
‘Sorry doesn’t cut it. Sorry is when you don’t clean your room or do the dishes.
‘Not when you slaughter 17 people,’ Lewis told DailyMail.com.
He added that the shooting was ‘the ultimate betrayal’ to the Sneads who took Cruz in when his mother died. He and the teenage boy had been friends a year earlier when he was a student at Stoneman Douglas.
He convinced his parents to let him move in with them after he was thrown out of the home of another family who briefly took him in.
After learning it was Cruz who had carried out the killings, the Snead son was ‘heartbroken’, Lewis said.
‘He befriended this kid, they tried to make him a part of their family and he goes and does this. It is the ultimate betrayal,’ he said.
Cruz shot students in the freshman wing of the high school but avoided the classroom where he knew the Sneads’ son was. Pictured, students leaving the school afterward the shooting once he had fled
The Sneads saw Cruz again in the police station on the night of the shooting. He mouthed ‘I’m sorry’ to them. The 19-year-old is pictured on February 19, four days after the killings, in court
Cruz had been living with the Sneads at their Parkland home (above) for two months before the shooting. The family said he was doing well and appeared to be recovering from the death of his mother
None of the Sneads have visited Cruz in custody and they have ‘no interest’ in doing so, he said.
They were hopeful that Cruz was on a better path. He had taken a job at a Dollar Tree in Parkland and seemed to be becoming more social.
‘They had a good relationship. He seemed to be coming around. He was depressed because of his mom’s death but no one thought that was strange.
‘He seemed to be coming around,’ Lewis said.
James and Kimberly both testified before a grand jury on Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale.
‘The ultimate betrayal’: Kimberly and James, who is a military intelligence analyst, said they had no idea what Cruz was planning and that they are ‘heartbroken’ by the massacre
Afterwards, Cruz, 19, was indicted on 17 capital murder charges and 17 attempted murder charges.
If convicted, he faces the death penalty. His attorney say he will plead guilty but only if execution is taken off the table.
Jim Lewis, the Snead family attorney, told DailyMail.com they have no plans to visit him in jail and are ‘heartbroken’
Lewis said the Sneads had no major reaction to the charges or to the possibility that he may now be sentenced to death.
‘Nobody is surprised, everyone knew that was coming. They are heartbroken. They don’t understand why in the world he would do this, especially when he had a family who was opening up their house to him.
‘It is the height of the saying no good deed goes unpunished, ‘ he said.
The 17 killed were Luke Hoyer, Martin Duque-Anquiano, Gina Mantalto, Alexander Schachter, Alaina Petty, Alyssa Alhadeff, Nicholas Dworet, Helena Ramsay, Christopher Hixon, Carmen Schentrup, Aaron Feis, Scott Biegel, Meadow Pollack, Cara Loughran, Joaquin Oliver-Padauy, Jaime Guttenberg and Peter Wang.
The injured were Ashley Baez, William Olson, Kheshava Managapuram, Justin Colton, Alexander Dworet, Genesis Valentin, Daniela Menescal, Samantha Grady, Samantha Fuentes, Isabel Chequer, Samantha Mayor, Benjamin Wikander, Madeleine Wilford, Marian Kabachenko, Stacey Lippel, Anthony Borges and Kyle Laman.