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Nikolas Cruz’s dangerous and disturbing behavior was flagged repeatedly to authorities, both local and federal, over a span of two years starting in February 2016. But no one stopped him before he killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Here’s a time line of incidents where Cruz was reported to law enforcement. Many of the incidents involve the threat of a school shooting.
▪ Feb. 5, 2016: A Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy is told by an anonymous caller that Nikolas Cruz, then 17, had threatened on Instagram to shoot up his school and posted a photo of himself with guns. The information is forwarded to BSO Deputy Scot Peterson, a school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
▪ Sept. 23, 2016: A “peer counselor” reports to to Peterson that Cruz had possibly ingested gasoline in a suicide attempt, was cutting himself and wanted to buy a gun. A mental health counselor advises against involuntary committing Cruz. The high school says it will conduct a threat assessment.
▪ Sept. 28, 2016: An investigator for the Florida Department of Children and Families rules Cruz is stable, despite “fresh cuts” on his arms. His mother, Lynda Cruz, says in the past he wrote a racial slur against African Americans on his book bag and had recently talked of buying firearms.
▪ Sept. 24, 2017: A YouTube user named “nikolas cruz” posts a comment stating he wants to become a “professional school shooter.” The comment is reported to the FBI in Mississippi, which fails to make the connection to Cruz in South Florida.
▪ Nov. 1, 2017: Katherine Blaine, Lynda Cruz’s cousin, calls BSO to report that Nikolas Cruz had weapons and asks that police recover them. A “close family friend” agrees to take the firearms, according to BSO.
▪ Nov. 29, 2017: The Palm Beach County family that took in Cruz after the death of his mother calls the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office to report a fight between him and their son, 22. A member of the family says that Cruz had threatened to “get his gun and come back” and that he has “put the gun to others’ heads in the past.” The family does not want him arrested once he calms down.
▪ Nov. 30, 2017: A caller from Massachusetts calls BSO to report that Cruz is collecting guns and knives and could be a “school shooter in the making.” A BSO deputy advises the caller to contact the Palm Beach sheriff.
▪ Jan. 5, 2018: A caller to the FBI’s tip line reports that Cruz has “a desire to kill people” and could potentially conduct a school shooting. The information is never passed on to the FBI’s office in Miami.
▪ Feb. 14, 2018: Nikolas Cruz attacks Stoneman Douglas High. Peterson, the school’s resource officer, draws his gun outside the building where Cruz is shooting students and staff. He does not enter.