Netizen 24 ISR: Ex-student charged in fatal Florida school shooting posed with guns, talked about killing animals

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Ex-student charged in fatal Florida school shooting posed with guns, talked about killing animals

Advertisment Updated Ex-student charged in fatal Florida school shooting posed with guns, talked about killing animals

'There were problems with him last year threatening students,' teacher says

The Associated Press Posted: Feb 15, 2018 5:33 AM ET Last Updated: Feb 15, 2018 9:31 AM ET

Florida shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz arrives at police station 1:09

The former student charged in a deadly rampage at a Florida high school had threatened and harassed peers, talked about killing animals, posed with guns in disturbing photos on social media, and bragged about target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun, according to students and neighbours.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for "disciplinary reasons," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. Israel also said he didn't know the specifics.

Math teacher Jim Gard told the Miami Hera ld he believes that before Wednesday's shooting that left 17 people dead, the school had sent 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 paper.

School Shooting Florida

Police evacuate students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday after the shooting. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via Associated Press)

Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old student, said Cruz had been abusive to his ex-girlfriend and that his expulsion was over a fight with her new boyfriend. He had been attending another school in Broward County since the expulsion, school officials said.

Cruz's mother, Lynda Cruz, died of pneumonia on Nov. 1, neighbours, friends and family members said, according to the Sun Sentinel. Cruz and her husband, who died of a heart attack several years ago, adopted Nikolas and his biological brother, Zachary, after the couple moved from Long Island in New York to Broward County.

'I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him.' - Dakota Mutchler, student

The boys were left in the care of a family friend after their mother died, said family member Barbara Kumbatovich of Long Island, N.Y.

Unhappy there, Nikolas Cruz asked to move in with a friend's family in northwest Broward. The family agreed, and Cruz moved in around Thanksgiving. According to the family's lawyer, who did not identify them, they knew that Cruz owned an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle but made him keep it locked up in a cabinet. He did have the key, however.

A law enforcement official told The Asso ciated Press that Cruz legally purchased the gun about a year ago.

Jim Lewis said the family is devastated and didn't see this coming. They are co-operating with authorities, he said.

'Didn't like the neighbours'

Longtime neighbours Malcolm and Christine Roxburgh told the Sun Sentinel that the police came to the Cruz family's house many times, as Nickolas apparently used to get in trouble and harass people. Malcolm Roxburgh said a neighbour across the street kept pigs, and Cruz targeted the family.

"He didn't like the pigs and didn't like the neighbours, so he sent over his dog over there to try to attack them," Roxburgh claimed.

His wife said she once caught Nikolas peeking in her window.

"He said he was looking for golf balls," she recalled. "I said, 'This isn't the golf course.'"

When Cruz didn't want to go to school, he would bang his h ead against a cement wall, the couple said. The two also said they were scared of him.

Cruz was getting treatment at a mental-health clinic for a time, but hadn't been there for more than a year, Broward County Mayor Beam Furr said during an interview with CNN.

"It wasn't like there wasn't concern for him," Furr said. "We try to keep our eyes out on those kids who aren't connected... In this case, we didn't find a way to connect with this kid."

U.S. President Donald Trump weighed Thursday morning, saying it appeared the accused was "mentally disturbed."

Trump has cited mental health before as a cause for mass shootings, dismissing questions about gun control.

Officials said they're dissecting Cruz's social media posts, but they didn't elaborate. Peers said they recognized Cruz from an Instagram photo posing with a gun in front of his face. The students called Cruz &quo t;weird" and a "loner." Even those who had been friendly with him said they hadn't seen him in more than a year since his expulsion.

Dakota Mutchler, 17, recalled Cruz posting on Instagram about killing animals, and said he had talked about doing target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun.

"He started going after one of my friends, threatening her, and I cut him off from there," Mutchler said.

APTOPIX School Shooting Florida

Parents await news after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was reported in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday. (Joel Auerbach/Associated Press)

Broward County School District Supt. Robert Runcie said he did not know of any threats posed by Cruz to the school.

"Typically you see in these situations that there potentiall y could have been signs out there," Runcie said. "I would be speculating at this point if there were, but we didn't have any warnings. There weren't any phone calls or threats that we know of that were made."

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