Parkland, FL – The teenager behind one of the deadliest school shootings in history told police he took an Uber to the Parkland high school to kill people.
According to the police report, Nikolas Cruz, 19, arrived at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School via Uber at 2:19 p.m.
Cruz told police that he was carrying a black duffel bag and a black backpack that contained an AR-15 rifle and multiple loaded magazines, authorities said at a press conference on Thursday.
Cruz shot students and faculties in the hallways and in five classrooms on the first and second floor of the freshman building, and then removed his vest and discarded his weapon and ammo, in a stairwell before leaving the building with the students who were evacuating.
Police spotted him at 3:41 p.m. as he strolled calmly down a neighborhood street in Coral Springs, less than two miles from the high school where he’d committed his massacre.
He was arrested without incident, and on Thursday morning, charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Numerous additional students and faculty were wounded in the attack, and additional charges are expected.
Sixteen-year-old Catarina Linden told WFLA she was in an advanced math class Wednesday when Cruz started shooting.
“He shot the girl next to me,” Linden said. “I stepped on so many shell casings. There were bodies on the ground, and there was blood everywhere.”
On Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said they believed they had investigated a 2017 YouTube comment made by Cruz.
FBI Agent Rob Lasky said they could not identify the person who posted the comment that said bail bondsman Ben Bennight’s video.
Bennight posted a video on YouTube on Feb. 14 in which he said he had warned the FBI about Cruz last fall.
In the video, Bennight said a user named “nikolas cruz” posted “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” on his YouTube channel on Sept. 24.
He reported it to his local FBI field office, and agents came out to get the information from him, and he heard nothing more about it.
Bennight didn’t remember which video the comment had been posted on, but said he also notified YouTube and they had removed it.
In Wednesday’s video, he said the FBI had just left his home after interviewing him, and that he’d heard from FBI agents from more than one city since the shootings, leading him to believe FBI already had Cruz on their radar screen.
Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runci initially said that the school had no signs or warnings about Cruz, but teachers from Douglas High School told a different story.
Jim Gard, a math teacher, said Cruz had been his student last year, and that the school administrators had sent out a warning email about him.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” Gard told the Miami Herald. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”
Sheriff Israel said that Cruz had been expelled from Douglas High School for disciplinary reasons, although he did not have the specifics.
An attorney for the family with whom Cruz was living explained that they’d taken in the depressed teenager after his mother died of pneumonia in November. His father died when he was a child. Cruz had attended Douglas High School with their son.
Attorney Jim Lewis told The New York Times that the family had taken in a troubled kid who had nowhere to go, and helped him get a job and enroll in classes to get his GED.
Mr. Lewis told CNN said that Cruz refused to get out of bed to go to school on Wednesday.
CNN reported that Cruz explained his reluctance by saying something to the effect of “It’s Valentine’s Day. I don’t go to school on Valentine’s Day.”
The family hadn’t seen any signs of mental illness, other than the depression they attributed to the recent loss of his mother, Lewis said.
"They didn't see that. They didn't see a mentally ill person, or they wouldn't have let him live under their home," he told CNN.
Police said Cruz purchased his AR-15 rifle legally, at Sunrise Tactical Supply in Florida, in February of 2017.
“No laws were violated in the procurement of this weapon,” said Peter J. Forcelli, the special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Miami, according to the New York Times.
Cruz was ordered held without bond during a short hearing on Thursday morning.
His attorney, who had her arm around Cruz during the proceedings, called him a “broken human being.”
She said that she “had to have the exact same conversation that every parent in Broward County had to have with their children this morning,” WFLA reported.
The Broward school superintendent said at the press conference Thursday that they were working on how to reopen the high school, and cited logistics that involved working around the freshman building where the massacre occurred.