The teen gunman who shot 17 people at a Florida high school on Wednesday was dressed in a hospital uniform as he was seen leaving the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, after a night of questioning.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, was transferred to the county jail Thursday morning where he will wait until his first court hearing later today.
He is set to be arraigned on 17 counts of premeditated murder – charges that could get him the death penalty if convicted.
Details have already began to emerge about the shooter, who owned an AR-15 rifle, had a troubled past and recently suffered the loss of his adoptive mother.
It also appears that the FBI missed out on an opportunity to intervene before the shooting, when a bail bondsman in Mississippi last year alerted the feds about an alarming online message Cruz wrote saying he was ‘going to be a professional school shooter’.
Scroll down for video
This photo provided by the Broward County Jail shows Nikolas Cruz, the teen suspected of killing 17 and injuring at least 20 in a school shooting on Wednesday in Florida
Cruz was dressed in a hospital uniform as he was seen leaving the Broward County Sheriff’s Office early Thursday morning
Cruz will wait at the county jail until later Thursday, when he’s expected to make his first court appearance
President Trump said in a tweet Thursday morning that there were signs that the shooter was ‘mentally disturbed’ – and entreated Americans to report similar people to the authorities
Ben Bennight says he alerted the FBI to a comment shared by Cruz on one of his YouTube videos back in September. He says the FBI was quick to respond to the concerning statement, arriving at his office the very next day to find out if he knew anything about the young man.
That was after he called a local field agent, revealing that his initial attempts to send in a screengrab of the comment failed when the email address he found listed on the federal agency’s website came back with a domain error saying that it did not exist.
He didn’t get a follow up from the FBI until Wednesday though, after the shooting.
Authorities offered no immediate details about Cruz or his possible motive, except to say that he had been kicked out of the high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which has about 3,000 students.
Authorities quickly started dissecting the shooter’s social media accounts in a bid to piece together the motive. Sheriff Israel reported that some of things the shooter had been posting was ‘very disturbing’.
Students who knew him described a volatile teenager whose strange behavior had caused others to end friendships with him.
Cruz’s mother Lynda Cruz died of pneumonia on November 1 neighbors, friends and family members said, according to the Sun Sentinel . Cruz and her husband, who died of a heart attack several years ago, adopted Nikolas and his biological brother, Zachary, after the couple moved from Long Island in New York to Broward County. Nikolas was an infant when he was adopted, and his adoptive mother was allegedly the only person he was close with.
Cruz’s Instagram is filled with disturbing posts of what appears to be himself showing off weapons, his face sometimes covered, along with other disturbing images and captions. He captioned this Instgram snap ‘pistol fun ass f**k’
Cruz was armed with at least one AR-15 rifle and had ‘multiple magazines’ when he stormed the school, according to the sheriff. He captioned this Instagram photo ‘mother f**king knifffeeeesssss’
‘It really does f***ing work give it a try’ Cruz captioned this post on Instagram in December of 2015
‘For hunting’: Cruz asked for guidance online in January of 2016 on how best to purchase this gun
‘Lynda was very close to them,’ her sister-in-law Barbara Kumbatovic told The Washington Post. ‘She put a lot of time and effort into those boys, trying to give them a good life and upbringing.’
While his brother was quiet and liked to stay indoors, Nikolas constantly got into trouble. Neighbors told the Sun Sentinel that the police were called several times to deal with Nikolas.
Shelby Speno witnessed Cruz shooting at chickens owned by another resident, while Malcolm Roxburgh said the teen disliked pigs kept by another family and ‘sent over his dog…to try to attack them’.
‘Lynda dealt with it like most parents did. She was probably too good to him,’ Kumbatovic said. ‘She was a lovely woman. She was a hard-working woman. She made a beautiful home for them. She put a lot of effort and time into their schooling, their recreation, whatever they needed. She was a good parent. And she went over and above because she needed to compensate for being a single parent.’
She added: ‘I don’t think it had anything to do with his upbringing. It could have been the loss of his mom. I don’t know.’
The boys were left in the care of a family friend after their mother died, Kumbatovich said.
The White House flag was lowered to half-staff on Thursday in remembrance of the victims who died in the shooting on Wednesday
The shooting was the 30th mass shooting of the year, a fact that has propelled many, including Kim Kardashian, to demand Congress enact stricter gun control laws
Classes for the rest of the week have been cancelled at the school in Parkland, Florida (pictured above on Thursday)
There continued to be a police presence on the campus on Thursday. Investigators were no doubt continuing to comb the scene for clues
Pictured above is the Broward County jail where Cruz was brought Thursday morning
Cruz will be held at the jail until his hearing scheduled for later Thursday. Above, another view of the jail
Unhappy there, Cruz asked to move in with a friend’s home in northwest Broward. The family agreed and Cruz moved into his own room in the home around Thanksgiving.
‘The family brought him into their home,’ Lewis said. ‘They got him a job at a local dollar store. They didn’t see anything that would suggest any violence. He was depressed, maybe a little quirky. But they never saw anything violent. … He was just a little depressed and seemed to be working through it.’
Cruz brought his AR-15 with him to the family’s home, where it was kept in a locked cabinet that the teen had a key to. Sources told CNN that the gunman purchased the rifle in the past year and passed a required background check to obtain it. Federal law allows people 18 and over to legally purchase long guns. At 21, people can legally buy handguns from a licensed dealer.
While living with the family, Lewis started going to a school for at-risk youth. Usually every morning, the father of the family would drive Cruz to school, but on Wednesday he overslept and then gave a cryptic reason why.
‘He said, “It’s Valentine’s Day and I don’t go to school on Valentine’s Day,”‘ Lewis said.
Lewis said the family is devastated and didn’t see this coming. They are cooperating with authorities, he said.
Broward County Mayor Beam Furr also revealed that Cruz had been getting treatment at a mental health clinic for a while, but hadn’t been back to the clinic in more than a year.
‘It wasn’t like there wasn’t concern for him,’ Furr told CNN. ‘We try to keep our eyes out on those kids who aren’t connected. … In this case we didn’t find a way to connect with this kid.’
Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old junior at the school, said Cruz was expelled last school year because he got into a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. She said he had been abusive to his girlfriend.
‘I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him,’ she said.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, was arrested after he stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday afternoon armed with an assault rifle
The suspect, wearing a maroon colored top, is taken into custody two hours after opening fire on his high school
Authorities inspect the AR-15 rifle the teen gunman used in the mass shooting on Wednesday
The suspected gunman was checked out at a hospital after his arrest (above in a hospital gown) and is now being held at a secure location in a public building
Traumatized students said that once they heard reports of a mass shooting at the school they knew it would be Cruz, while one teacher said he had been identified as a potential threat to his classmates last year.
Matthew Walker, a 17-year-old student at the school, told WFOR-TV that all his classmates ‘knew it was going to be him.’
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said Cruz was a former student at the school but had been expelled for unknown ‘disciplinary reasons’ last year
‘A lot of people were saying it was going to be him,’ he said. ‘A lot of kids threw jokes around saying that he was going to be the one to shoot up the school. It turns out that everyone predicted it. That’s crazy.’
‘He was going class to class just shooting at random kids,’ he said. ‘Everything he posts (on social media) is about weapons. It’s sick.’
Math teacher Jim Gard, who taught Cruz last year, told the Miami Herald: ‘We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him. There were problems with him last year threatening students and I guess he was asked to leave campus.’
Another student took to social media claiming Cruz had mental health issues that were ‘ignored by all the adults’.
‘He literally had an Instagram where he posted pictures of animals he killed gruesomely and he physically assaulted one of my friends once,’ the student added.
Another student, who was not identified, but claims to know Cruz told WSVN he was obsessed with guns and showed him pictures of them on his phone.
‘He’s been a troubled kid and he’s always had a certain amount of issues going on. He shot guns because he felt it gave him, I guess, an exhilarating feeling.’
He added that Cruz made him nervous.
‘I stayed clear of him most of the time. My time in alternate school, I did not want to be with him at all because I didn’t want to cause any conflict with him because of the impression he gave off.’
As a high school freshman, Cruz was part of the US military-sponsored Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corp program at the school.
President Trump tweeted Thursday morning, saying there were signs that the shooter was ‘mentally disturbed’.
He also entreated Americans to report similar people to the authorities.
‘So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior.
‘Neighbors and classmates knew he was such a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!’ he wrote.
Trump has cited mental health before as a cause for mass shootings, dismissing questions about gun control.
Staff and students walked single file outside the school as they evacuated after the shooting
Students were seen fleeing the building with their hands in the air, as they ran for safety from the gunman
Medical personnel tend to a bloodied victim as they help to evacuate them from the school
An injured female was transported from the school on a stretcher by first responders on Wednesday afternoon
Just before the shooting broke out at 2:25pm, some students thought they were having another fire drill.
Such an exercise had forced them to leave their classrooms hours earlier. So when the alarm went off Wednesday afternoon shortly before they were to be dismissed, they once again filed out into the hallways.
That’s when police say Cruz, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.
‘Our district is in a tremendous state of grief and sorrow,’ said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, about an hour’s drive north of Miami. ‘It is a horrible day for us.’
The first victims of the shooting have been identified as 46-year-old athletic director Chris Hixon, left, and of the mass shooting has been identified as 46-year-old athletic director Chris Hixon and student Jaime Guttenburg, right
Police arrived at the scene to find hundreds of students fleeing the school. They later learned