NEW YORK – The legal guardian of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz spoke for the first time Tuesday since 17 people were killed by the teen.
At a press conference in New York, Rocxanne Deschamps described why Cruz and his brother, Zachary, moved in with her family and how she became alarmed over Nikolas' guns.
Deschamps said she did everything she could to warn law enforcement that Cruz could harm others.
"I wanted to protect, not only my children, but also everyone else who might be at risk." said Deschamps with celebrity attorney Gloria Allred by her side. "I also wanted to protect Nikolas from himself. I did everything I could, but could not stop this tragedy from taking place."
While living with her family, Cruz refused Deschamps urging to see a doctor after he had become depressed and stopped taking his medication.
"He said it didn't help him and that I couldn't force him because he was an adult," Deschamps said Cruz replied.
Deschamps, who knew the Cruz boys since they were 12 and 9, said she first saw guns and ammunition in Nikolas' possession while staying at their home for three weeks in October 2016. Deschamps said Cruz's mother, Linda, was her best friend and they spoke every day.
Fearful of having weapons around her youngest son, Deschamps asked permission from Linda Cruz to take the guns and lock them away. Linda agreed, saying she was scared of her son and that Nikolas had previously held a gun to her head.
When Deschamps took custody of the Cruz children after their mother died in November, she claims she warned Nikolas he could not bring the guns to her house.
During the first month living at the Deschamps' home, Nikolas was on his best behavior.
However, weeks later, a receipt was found in Cruz's room for guns and ammunition purchased at Dick's Sporting Goods. As the guns were still under the waiting period, no guns were found.
The Deschamps family say they called 911 to ask if the gun purchase could be halted, but claim authorities said they could not stop him from buying or possessing guns.
"I told them that Nikolas was 19-years-old, but he felt mentally and emotionally as a 12-year-old," Deschamps says she told police after the call.
The family called 911 again after believing Cruz had attempted to bury guns in the yard.
A third call to 911 was made on Nov. 29 after Cruz began "punching walls and breaking items inside the home," according to the police report. Cruz also punched Deschamps' oldest son Rock before leaving the home.
"I told the officer that I was concerned Nikolas would come back with a gun," said Deschamps. "I told the police about the prior incident that I knew of, that Nikolas had put a gun to his mother's and his brother's head."
Deschamps says police claimed again there was nothing that could be done.
When Cruz returned to the home, Deschamps said she gave him an ultimatum; he could have them or the gun.
"He chose the gun." Deschamps said.
Deschamps said she told Nikolas that he could not stay in the home, but she would always be there to help him.
After Cruz went to live at a friend's house, Deschamps warned the parents about his prior behavior.
A judge entered a plea of not guilty for Cruz last Wednesday when he was arraigned on 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree.
"My heart goes out to the victims, the 17 victims in the shooting who were killed," Deschamps added. "To the 17 who were injured, and to all their families. To everyone who was placed in fear on that terrible day."