Gun violence in the US

Florida gunman was ‘a monster living under our roof’ say couple who took the orphan in

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 February, 2018, 7:36am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 3:28am

Florida school gunman Nikolas Cruz was depressed after his mother died in November but seemed to be getting happier, the couple who took him in have said – and they are baffled that he is one of the deadliest teen killers in US. history.

“We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know,” Kimberly Snead told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Saturday. “We didn’t see this side of him.”

Kimberly and Jame Snead said their son asked whether Cruz, 19, could move into their Parkland home around Thanksgiving, a few weeks after Cruz’s mother died of complications from pneumonia.

Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know. It’s as simple as that.
James Snead

The Sneads said Cruz, whom authorities say has confessed to killing 17 people at his former high school, was extremely depressed about his mother but seemed to be getting happier.

They said they had no idea the FBI had been warned about him as a potential school gunman, and that many students considered him a threat.

“Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know,” James Snead told the Sun Sentinel. “It’s as simple as that.”

James Snead is an Army veteran and the family has guns, so they had no problem with Cruz owning weapons. But they said they had firm rules about keeping them locked up and said they believed – apparently incorrectly – they had the only key.

The couple said Cruz had the beginnings of a normal life, riding his bike to work at a local Dollar Tree and taking adult education courses at night.

He expressed interest in joining the Army. The couple called their mentoring of Cruz “Adulting 101.”

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They said he was lonely and wanted a girlfriend. They said there were no signs of behaviour sometimes associated with mass killers such as animal cruelty. In fact, they said Cruz loved their two dogs and six cats.

He said he was sorry. He apologised. He looked lost, absolutely lost
James Snead, on Nikolas Cruz after the shooting

Tuesday night was totally normal, they said. Cruz had a steak and cheese sandwich for dinner and went to bed at 8pm.

The next day, authorities said, he walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school, armed with a semi-automatic assault weapon, smoke grenades and a mask. The ensuing rampage left 17 people dead and more than a dozen wounded.

The couple heard about the shooting when their son called in a panic, saying he was not injured but that he heard gunshots at school. Then a Swat team commander called, asking where Cruz was.

Kimberly told the Sun Sentinel she was sleeping when officers banged on her door, guns drawn, yelling: “Put your hands up.” They searched the house, but Cruz wasn’t there.

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Cruz was apprehended in a nearby neighbourhood soon after the bloodbath. Authorities said he has confessed to the massacre.

The Sneads’ son was interviewed by Broward County Sheriff’s officials and released to his parents. The couple said they went to pick him up and saw Cruz being led away.

“Really, Nik? Really?” she said she yelled at him.

“He said he was sorry. He apologised. He looked lost, absolutely lost,” James Snead told the Sun Sentinel. “And that was the last time we saw him.”