The signs were there.
The gunman who stormed into his old high school in Florida and murdered at least 17 people Wednesday was a “troubled kid” who used to joke about shooting up the school, according to one of his former classmates.
“He’s always been a troubled kid, and he’s always had a certain amount of issues going on,” the ex-classmate, who did not give his name, told WSVN-TV. “He played around with this joke all the time, like he knows the layout of the school, he can actually go ahead and pinpoint where all the students would be,” the student said.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, was easily taken into custody after the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Cruz had been expelled from the school for being a discipline case, authorities said.
He roamed the halls of his former school Wednesday, armed to the teeth with an AR-15 rifle and multiple magazines. Postings on Cruz’s social media accounts were “very, very disturbing,” according to Broward Sheriff Scott Israel.
Gunman opens fire at Florida high school
A relative said Cruz, who was adopted at birth along with his biological younger brother by an older couple, has had a hard few years. His father died when Cruz was much younger and his mother died last year, she said.
“I know he did have some issues, and he may have been taking medication,” said Cruz’s aunt, Barbara Kumbatovich, whose sister died in November. “He did have some kind of emotional difficulties.”
She said Cruz and his brother were left in the care of a family friend after his mother’s death.
The Cruz family lived across the street from Craig Koblitz, 62, a few years ago.
“He was not a normal kid,” Koblitz said. “He used to come to my house and steal my fish out of my pond.”
“The thing is, they’re talking about how the police were at that house 10 times,” Koblitz added. “The police in this area knew that kid very well. He was not a stranger to these cops at all around here.”
A Douglas student told the Daily News that she remembered Cruz being “abusive” in middle school. “He used to punch walls,” the teen, who identified herself as Lex, said, adding that Cruz was in and out of detention.
Jim Gard, a math teacher at the high school, told the Miami Herald the young shooter was in his class in 2017.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” Gard said. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”