Couple who had taken in Florida gunman say he was quirky, naive

PHOTO: AFP

The couple who had taken Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz into their family said in an interview published Sunday they had no inkling of violent tendencies from the young man whom they described as quirky and naive.

Cruz, 19, moved in with James and Kimberly Snead of Parkland, Florida in late November after the death of his mother earlier that month from complications of pneumonia, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. He was a friend of their son.

"I told him there'd be rules and he followed every rule to the T," James Snead, 48, an army veteran and military intelligence analyst, told the paper.

"We had this monster living under our roof and we didn't know," said Kimberly Snead, 49, a nurse. "We didn't see this side of him."

Cruz killed 17 people at his former high school last Wednesday using an AR-15 rifle that he had legally purchased. It was the country's worst school massacre since the horror at Sandy Hook six years ago that left 26 dead.

A profile has emerged of a troubled young man who was expelled from the school last year for "disciplinary reasons."

The FBI admitted it received a detailed warning last month about Cruz's gun ownership, erratic behaviour, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting. The agency took no action, despite the tip-off.

The Sneads described a 19-year-old who had grown up apparently without ever having to perform common chores -- he couldn't cook, do laundry, pick up after himself or even use a microwave.

"He was very naive. He wasn't dumb, just naive," James Snead told the Sun Sentinel.

Cruz had odd habits, like putting a chocolate chip cookie on a sneak and cheese sandwich, and going to bed at 8 pm.

He seemed lonely and badly wanted a girlfriend, and also was depressed about the death of his mother, the couple said. Kimberly Snead had taken Cruz to the office of a therapist just five days before the shooting, and he had said he was open to therapy and took a business card.

17 killed in Valentine's Day shooting spree at Florida high school

  • The gunman surrendered to police without a struggle, Israel said. Investigators believe he was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and had multiple magazines of ammunition, according to the sheriff.
  • A man placed in handcuffs is led by police near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following a shooting incident in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 14, 2018
  • Twelve of the dead were killed inside the school, two others just outside, one more on the street and two other victims died of their injuries at a hospital.
  • A 19-year-old gunman returned to a Florida high school where he had once been expelled for disciplinary reasons and opened fire with an assault-style rifle on Wednesday, killing 17 people before he was arrested by police, authorities said.
  • The victims comprised a mixture of students and adults.
  • The gunman was identified as Nikolaus Cruz, who previously attended the school and was expelled for unspecified disciplinary reasons
  • Live television footage showed students streaming out of the building as dozens of police and emergency services personnel swarmed the area.
  • The Valentine's Day bloodshed in the Miami suburb of gated communities with palm- and shrub-lined streets was the latest outbreak of gun violence that has become a regular occurrence at schools and college campuses across the United States over the past several years.
  • McKenzie Hartley, 19, who identified herself as the sister of a student at the school described the scene in a text message to Reuters: "She heard him shooting through the windows of classrooms and two students were shot."
  • Staff and students told local media that a fire alarm went off around the time the shooting started, sparking chaos as some 3,300 students at the school first headed into hallways before teachers herded them back into classrooms, to seek shelter in closets.
  • CBS News posted a brief clip of cell phone video footage the network said was taken from inside a classroom, showing what appeared to be several students. A rapid series of loud gunshots are heard amid hysterical screaming and someone yelling, “Oh my God.”

Cruz told the Sneads he would inherit at least $800,000 from his parents, with most of the funds becoming available when he turned 22.

The couple last saw Cruz, who has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, at the Broward County Sheriff's office. Dressed in a hospital gown, he was handcuffed and surrounded by deputies.

"He said he was sorry. He apologised. He looked lost, absolutely lost," said James Snead. "And that was the last time we saw him."

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