The teen gunman behind the Florida high mass shooting had been banned from carrying a backpack on campus prior to being expelled and had already been identified as a potential threat to students long before the deadly rampage.
Authorities are now trying to piece together exactly how 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz was able to carry out the horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday given the warning signs that students and staff have since revealed.
Cruz was wearing a gas mask when he stormed the school armed with an AR-15 rifle, multiple magazines and smoke grenades, killing 17 people and injuring dozens more.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, was arrested after he stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday afternoon armed with an assault rifle
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Cruz had been expelled from the high school unspecified disciplinary reasons but he managed to reenter the school before unleashing terror.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said Cruz was a former student at the school but had been expelled for unknown ‘disciplinary reasons’ last year
He had been banned from carrying a backpack around last year after bullet fragments were found in his bag after he got into a fight with fellow student.
As a high school freshman, Cruz was part of the US military-sponsored Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corp program at the school.
His traumatized former classmates said that when they first heard the gunshots ringing out on Wednesday, they immediately knew it would be Cruz.
Dakota Mutchler, a 17-year-old junior, said he used to be close friends with Cruz but hadn’t seen him in more than a year following his expulsion from school.
‘He started progressively getting a little more weird,’ Mutchler said.
‘He started going after one of my friends, threatening her, and I cut him off from there.
‘I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him.’
Cruz had posted multiple photos on his Instagram of him posing with various weapons
Authorities dissecting his social media accounts reported that some of things he had been posting was ‘very, very disturbing’
Matthew Walker, a 17-year-old student at the school, told WFOR-TV that all his classmates also ‘knew it was going to be him.’
‘A lot of people were saying it was going to be him,’ he said.
‘A lot of kids threw jokes around saying that he was going to be the one to shoot up the school. It turns out that everyone predicted it. That’s crazy.’
Another classmate, Chad Williams, described Cruz as ‘kind of an outcast’ who was known for unruly behavior at school, including a penchant for pulling false fire alarms, and was ‘crazy about guns.’
One teacher said Cruz had been identified as a potential threat to his classmates last year.
Jim Gard, a math teacher who taught Cruz last year, told the Miami Herald: ‘We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him.
‘There were problems with him last year threatening students and I guess he was asked to leave campus.’
Another student took to social media soon after the shooting claiming that Cruz had mental health issues that were ‘ignored by all the adults’.
The suspected gunman was checked out at a hospital after his arrest (above in a hospital gown) and is now being held at a secure location in a public building
Authorities inspect the AR-15 rifle the teen gunman used in the mass shooting on Wednesday
Authorities quickly started dissecting his social media accounts to try and piece together a motive following the shooting.
They reported that some of things he had been posting was ‘very, very disturbing’.
Cruz’s Instagram is filled with disturbing posts of himself showing off weapons, a bullet-riddle target with the caption ‘group therapy’ and also a post that showed a Google search for ‘Allahu Akbar’.
In one post, he shared an online ad for a Maverick 88 Slug shotgun. Another showed a bullet-riddled target with a caption ‘Group Therapy.’ The post before that one showed a Google search for ‘Allahu Akbar.’
Students also claimed he had another Instagram page with photos of small animals he had killed and that Cruz talked of doing target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun.
Despite all of this, school superintendent, Robert Runcie, told reporters on Wednesday that he didn’t know of any concerns raised about Cruz.
‘We received no warnings,’ he said.
‘Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn’t have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.’
Cruz was adopted as an infant and raised by Roger and Lynda Cruz, a family member told ABC News. Family say his adoptive mother died a few months ago.