Roughly a year before the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, school officials were warned by a student that Nikolas Cruz had mused about shooting up the school, according to a young woman’s sworn statement to police, which was released Friday.
As a result of that warning, she said in her statement, Cruz was “expelled” from the student body.
If true, it would add to a list of what critics have called a series of warning signs missed or downplayed by the Broward school district, law officers and mental health professionals, all of whom had troubling encounters with the Parkland teenager.
Broward County Public Schools, citing privacy concerns, declined to comment on the student’s statement, included in a stack of public records released Friday by the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
“Our office is unable to provide any information on your inquiry, as this falls under the rules protecting student information and records,” wrote spokeswoman Tracy Clark in an email.
At the time of the rampage, Cruz was no longer attending Stoneman Douglas, having not been expelled but rather transferred to an alternative learning center. He appeared at Stoneman Douglas the afternoon of Feb. 14, 2018, and stalked through the hallways of the freshman building, shooting random students and staff members with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle.
The girl interviewed by police is a former classmate of Cruz, who is charged with killing 17 and attempting to kill 17 others. It was the worst mass shooting at a school in Florida history.
She said she first met Cruz when he was trying to acquire a gun at the Walmart next to Marjory Stoneman Douglas. WIth them was her boyfriend. Cruz and her boyfriend started talking while she watched and eavesdropped, said the young woman, who was 17 at the time of the interview with police.
Cruz seemed jittery and disheveled, she said, with leaves in his hair. He kept looking from side to side. The girl told investigators she overheard Cruz say he was trying to find something he paid for — that it was supposed to be in the parking lot. Her boyfriend later confirmed this, telling her Cruz, who had just turned 18, claimed he had arranged to buy a gun from someone who was supposed to leave it in the bushes.
She told investigators her boyfriend and Cruz didn’t really hang out together but the two would talk and that Cruz would confide in him. About three weeks after the Walmart incident, Cruz told her boyfriend he wanted to shoot up the school, she said.
“Don’t come to school tomorrow because this is going to happen,” she said Cruz told the boyfriend.
The boyfriend relayed the threat to the school administration, which took action, she told investigators.
Interviewed Friday by the Herald, Anthony Dubois, the father of the young woman’s boyfriend, said the girl had mixed up a couple of details. He said it was his other son — the boyfriend’s younger brother — who warned the school about Cruz. He told the Herald that Cruz introduced himself to the second brother, saying he was crazy and liked to hurt people.
His younger son also made note that Cruz liked looking up guns on the school computers and that he would point finger guns at birds, as if to shoot them down.
Dubois said the younger sibling did report Cruz’s behavior to the school administration but was told “there was actions being taken against him and not to worry.” The father believes the school district should have taken the threat more seriously.
Dubois said investigators took a statement from the younger brother after the killing spree.
Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was killed in the massacre, said he had not heard of the latest revelation but that it was consistent with other missed warning signs involving the accused school shooter.
“It’s unbelievable, I don’t know what else to say,” Guttenberg said Friday. “I always say this was a preventable act of violence. Every step of the way, somebody failed.”