Florida shooting suspect charged amid reports over warning signs

Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder following the deadliest shooting at a US school since 2012

Nikolas Cruz was a student at the Florida High School
Nikolas Cruz was a student at the Florida High School

Nikolas Cruz, the teenager who allegedly carried our a mass shooting at his former school in Florida, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder following the deadliest shooting at a US school since 2012.

As the 19-year-old was arrested, questions have arose over whether law enforcement officials and local authorities failed to act on warning singlas.

Reports say that teachers were warned in advance about the teenager, while a teacher said Cruz was not allowed on campus with a backpack.

Cruz was described as “weird” and “a loner”, and said “everyone predicted” he would “do something”.

Last year he was expelled from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland for disciplinary reasons.

Yesterday, he killed seventeen people in the attack and injured many more. Several people are in a critical condition.

Maths teacher Jim Gard told the Miami Herald that school authorities had emailed teachers about Cruz's behaviour.

"We were told last year that he wasn't allowed on campus with a backpack on him," Mr Gard told the Miami Herald.

"There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus."

School officials have not disclosed why Cruz was expelled from the school, but student Victoria Olvera, 17, told the Associated Press it was because of a fight with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend.

She also claimed he had been abusive towards the ex-girlfriend.

Former schoolmate Joshua Charo said Cruz had been found with bullets in his backpack.

"I can't say I was shocked," Mr Charo said. "He seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this."

Cruz was arrested a few miles away from the school
Cruz was arrested a few miles away from the school

Some other students echoed that opinion when interviewed. "Everyone predicted it," one told WFOR-TV.

Dakota Mutchler, a 17-year-old junior at the school and a former friend of Cruz, said he had started “progressively getting a little more weird, and I kind of cut off from him”. Mutchler said Cruz had posted about killing animals on social media and talked about guns and target practice.

“Everyone in the school that knew him speculated about him,” said Mutchler. “When someone’s expelled, you don’t really expect them to come back … If they’re expelled, they’re gone. But of course, he came back.”

Police however said they were not warned of any possible attack by Cruz.

Superintendent Robert Runcie told reporters: "We received no warnings.

"Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn't have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made."

According to the Sun Sentinel, Cruz’s mother died of pneumonia last November. She and her late husband had adopted Nikolas and his biological brother after the couple moved from Long Island in New York to Broward County.

The boys were left in the care of a family friend after their mother died, a family member said, and moved to stay at a friend’s family around Thanksgiving.

That family’s lawyer, Jim Lewis, said they knew Cruz owned an AR-15. They made him keep it locked up in a cabinet, to which he had a key.

Two separate Instagram accounts, now deleted, purport to show Cruz posing with guns and knives.

In a tweet on Thursday morning Donald Trump made no mention of gun control, instead focusing on Cruz’s background. “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior,” Trump wrote. “Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”

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