Parkland high school gunman described as 'strange kid' who killed small animals

Nikolas Cruz had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor

PARKLAND, Fla. - The suspect in a deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland has been described as a "strange kid" who liked to kill small animals.

An Instagram account linked to Nikolas Cruz shows the 19-year-old posing with guns and knives. In most of the photos, his face is covered with a bandana and Army hats.

Another photo is of a gun-range target with the caption, "Group therapy: Sometimes it works."

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel called his social media postings "more than distrubing."

School officials said Cruz, 19, had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas for disciplinary reasons. Before high school, he had attended Cross Creek School in Pompano Beach, a school designed for emotionally behaviorally disturbed students.

Nikolas Cruz Arrest

WPTV

A family friend, who did not want to give her name, said that Cruz and his younger brother Zachary were adopted by Roger and Lynda Cruz as newborns. Roger Cruz died when Nikolas was 6-years-old while Lynda Cruz passed away in November.

"[Lynda Cruz] brought them up by themselves. She did the best she could," the woman told Local 10 News. "When Nikolas was young, he needed extra attention. She knew in school he needed extra help."

The woman said Nikolas Cruz was hit hard by his mother's death.

"When I heard the situation happened I prayed that it wasn't him," she said. "Why would he do something like this?"

A Marjory Stoneman Douglas student said he met Cruz through mutual friends and used to fish with him and hang out at their friend's house.

"He was psycho, for sure," said a student who knew Cruz. "He was crazy because he liked to kill small things, like little animals -- frogs and other animals like that -- and he just had a crazy mind. He was racist and he was just crazy." 

Another student Fernando Santos told ABC News that Cruz didn't have many friends.

Santos said Cruz was picked on during the first few years of high school. His friend knew he liked guns a lot, but Santos said he never had any reason to think he might hurt other people.

In Cruz's neighborhood, a girl who lived nearby said she was terrified of him.

“I had him in my math class last year and like I had a lot of suspicions about him. ... Me and my friend we always said like something might happen, and we don’t want to be one of his targets. He said that he wanted to go to the military to shoot people. I remember that so clearly.”

The girl said Cruz made outlandish statements at school and he wasn't allowed to carry a backpack because he once brought a weapon to school. 

"Ever since that day he would bring a plastic bag and we would always see him with the plastic bag instead," she said. "That threw me off, and I was always concerned about that. I even told my parents last year almost every week that I was scared. Like, this kid might do something.”

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