Prosecutors plan to share lyrics of song Parkland gunman listened to before shooting

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz enters the courtroom for a hearing at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. Attorneys for Cruz told a judge Monday that detectives made false statements to get the search warrants allowing them to seize evidence from his cellphone and bedroom, including an argument over whether burgundy and maroon are the same color. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool) (Amy Beth Bennett, ' South Florida Sun Sentinel 2021)

PARKLAND, Fla. – It is a haunting detail in a recently filed state motion.

Prosecutors said while executing a search warrant on Nikolas Cruz’s phone, they found that “the song “Pumped Up Kicks” by artist Foster the People was accessed multiple times” just before Cruz arrived to Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School on Feb. 14, 2018.

In October, Cruz plead guilty to murdering 17 people and attempting to kill 17 others in the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland.

The penalty phase is now expected to start in early April.

Twelve jurors will determine if Cruz should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.

The state’s motion explains that prosecutors plan to present the song’s lyrics during the upcoming penalty phase which includes this chorus:

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks

You’d better run, better run, outrun my gun

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks

You’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet

Former state and federal prosecutor David Weinstein said by filing this motion for ‘Judicial Notice’ prosecutors are stating that “there is no argument about the admissibility of these facts and their use by the state during the upcoming proceedings.”

He added that there is no need for a witness to authenticate the facts nor an evidentiary hearing to present the lyrics.

According to, “Pumped up Kicks” was a catchy crossover hit and the ultimate breakthrough for the alt-pop group.

In a video posted seven years ago to the YouTube page of New Musical Express, Mark Foster of Foster the People was featured in a segment called Song Stories. Foster said the song, “forced the public to have a conversation, not only about guns and gun regulations, but also about art itself and where the line is, what should be edited and what shouldn’t be edited.

“In terms of the lyrical content, I wrote the chorus first and it was an interesting defining moment for that song.”

He went on to say that at the time he was writing the song, it was intended to be a “confidence song, ‘all the other kids better run from my gun’, but gun at that point was just a metaphor, it wasn’t a literal thing.”

Over time, he grew to realize he said that the song was actually about a kid and that the “gun in the chorus was actually a literal thing.”

In 2019 asked Foster: “So the song was written from the perspective of Robert, a high schooler with plans to go through with a school shooting. Can you share a little about how you wrote the song and where that idea came from?”

To which Foster replied, “Well, I’ll stop you in the question and say the school shooting part of it was never spoken about in the song. I think people filled in the blanks that it was about a school shooting, but I never say anything about a school in the song. It’s really more about this person’s psyche. Obviously, the song is speaking about violent things, but it is a misconception that it’s about a school shooting. I mean, it’s not a big point that you have to hit home, I just want to point that out.”

He said he wrote the song in January 2010 while reflecting on an unspecified shooting.

“It wasn’t necessarily reacting to the shooting itself, it was reacting to the idea, realizing that this isn’t going to change and that this is going to get so bad,” he said. “It was like peeling back time and looking into the future and being like, ‘This is going to get so bad before anything changes that a lot of people are going to die and this is going to be a really dark period of American history.’”

During the 2019 interview with, Foster stated that he was, “proud of the conversation that it created. But now I’ve been very seriously thinking of retiring the song forever,” in part because, “shootings have continued to happen, and I feel like there are so many people that have been touched, either personally or by proxy, by a mass shooting in this country — and that song has become almost a trigger of something painful they might have experienced. And that’s not why I make music.”

Local 10 News has reached out to Foster and Foster the People asking for a statement on the artist’s and group’s Instagram accounts.

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."