Broward deputies collecting reams of evidence in case against Cruz

Judge approves use of drone to retrace Parkland gunman's escape route

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor
Mike Stocker-Pool/Getty Images

Nikolas Cruz appears in court for a status hearing before Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer on Feb. 19, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

PARKLAND, Fla. - The Broward County Sheriff's Office has requested a wide range of data, video and other evidence as it builds its case against Marjory Stoneman Douglas gunman Nikolas Cruz.

Cruz has confessed to the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 people dead and wounded more than a dozen others. Circuit court judges have approved the search warrants.

Deputies also plan to a use a drone mounted with a video camera to trace Cruz's route as he fled from the Parkland high school after the shooting, according to the warrants.

Deputies have said that after the shooting, Cruz dropped his weapon and blended in with fleeing students. Cruz made his way to a McDonald's and a Subway in Coral Springs before he was arrested about a hour after the shooting, deputies said. The drone will attempt to document that route, the court records said.

Court records show deputies have requested data from major technology companies including Google, Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat. Deputies have requested copies of Cruz's emails, his contacts, photos and other data, such as comments and videos.

Cruz used social media extensively before the shooting. Court records show deputies believe Cruz operated multiple Snapchat and Instagram accounts.

In one of Cruz's Instagram accounts, he is shown posing with knifes and guns.

In some cases in the months leading up to the shooting, people alerted authorities after seeing videos  and comments attributed to Cruz on social media.

In September of last year, a man called the FBI after a user named Nikolas Cruz wrote "I'm going to be a professional school shooter" in a comment on a YouTube video. The FBI chose not to investigate the tip.

The Florida Department of Children and Families launched an investigation in September of 2016 after Cruz cut himself in a Snapchat video. The agency ultimately found that Cruz was not a threat to himself or others and ended the investigation.

Other requests include: 

  • Surveillance video from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The search warrant said the school has more than 70 surveillance cameras.
  • A number items that Palm Beach County sheriff's deputies seized from Cruz's former home in Lantana, including four mobile phones, five laptops and an Xbox 360 gaming console. 
  • Data associated with Cruz's Uber account. Deputies said Cruz used the ride-sharing service to travel to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 

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