members embrace following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas
High School, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland,

Photo/Wilfredo Lee

  • The suspect in a deadly rampage at a Florida high
    school is a troubled teenager who had both his adoptive parents
  • The suspect made disturbing social media posts and
    struck other students as troubling, and he reportedly had
    abused his ex-girflriend.
  • The suspect had been expelled from school after getting
    into a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — The suspect in a deadly rampage at a
Florida high school is a troubled teenager who posted disturbing
material on social media before the shooting spree that killed 17
people and wounded more than a dozen others, according to a law
enforcement official and former schoolmates.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said the 19-year-old suspect,
Nikolas Cruz, had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas
High School for “disciplinary reasons.”

“I don’t know the specifics,” the sheriff said.

However, Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old junior, said Cruz was
expelled last school year after a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s
new boyfriend. She said Cruz had been abusive to his girlfriend.

School officials said Cruz was attending another school in
Broward County after his expulsion.

Cruz’s mother Lynda Cruz died of pneumonia on Nov. 1 neighbors,
friends and family members said, according to the Sun
 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.

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

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 the AR-15 but made
him keep it locked up in a cabinet. He did have the key, however.

Jim Lewis said the family is devastated and didn’t see this
coming. They are cooperating with authorities, he said.

Broward County Mayor Beam Furr said during an interview with CNN
that the shooter was getting treatment at a mental health clinic
for a while, but that he hadn’t been back to the clinic for more
than a year.

Nikolas Cruz
police mugshot of Nikolas Cruz.

“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
… Most teachers try to steer them toward some kind of
connections. … In this case, we didn’t find a way to connect
with this kid,” Furr said.

Israel said investigators were dissecting the suspect’s social
media posts.

“And some of the things that have come to mind are very, very
disturbing,” he added without elaborating.

Daniel Huerfano, a student who fled Wednesday’s attack, said he
recognized Cruz from an Instagram photo in which Cruz posed with
a gun in front of his face. Huerfano recalled Cruz as a shy
student and remembered seeing him walking around with his lunch

“He was that weird kid that you see … like a loner,” he added.

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

Mutchler 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.

“I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do
it, it was going to be him,” Mutchler said.

Broward County School District Superintendent Robert Runcie told
reporters on Wednesday afternoon that he did not know of any
threats posed by Cruz to the school.

“Typically you see in these situations that there potentially
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.”

However, a teacher told The Miami Herald that Cruz may have been
identified as a potential threat to other students. Jim Gard, a
math teacher who said Cruz had been in his class last year, said
he believes the school had sent out 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 said.

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