Couple who had taken in Florida gunman say he was quirky, naive

2018-02-19 22:17
This photo provided by the Broward County Jail shows Nikolas Cruz. (AP)

This photo provided by the Broward County Jail shows Nikolas Cruz. (AP)

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Washington – The couple who had taken Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz into their family said in an interview published on Sunday they had no inkling of violent tendencies from the young man whom they described as quirky and naive.

Cruz, 19, moved in with James and Kimberly Snead of Parkland, Florida in late November after the death of his mother earlier that month from complications of pneumonia, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. He was a friend of their son.

"I told him there'd be rules and he followed every rule to the T," James Snead, 48, an army veteran and military intelligence analyst, told the paper.

"We had this monster living under our roof and we didn't know," said Kimberly Snead, 49, a nurse. "We didn't see this side of him."

Cruz killed 17 people at his former high school last Wednesday using an AR-15 rifle that he had legally purchased. It was the country's worst school massacre since the horror at Sandy Hook six years ago that left 26 dead.

A profile has emerged of a troubled young man who was expelled from the school last year for "disciplinary reasons."

The FBI admitted it received a detailed warning last month about Cruz's gun ownership, erratic behaviour, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting. The agency took no action, despite the tip-off.

Naive

The Sneads described a 19-year-old who had grown up apparently without ever having to perform common chores – he couldn't cook, do laundry, pick up after himself or even use a microwave.

"He was very naive. He wasn't dumb, just naive," James Snead told the Sun Sentinel.

Cruz had odd habits, like putting a chocolate chip cookie on a sneak and cheese sandwich, and going to bed at 20:00.

He seemed lonely and badly wanted a girlfriend, and also was depressed about the death of his mother, the couple said. Kimberly Snead had taken Cruz to the office of a therapist just five days before the shooting, and he had said he was open to therapy and took a business card.

Cruz told the Sneads he would inherit at least $800 000 from his parents, with most of the funds becoming available when he turned 22.

The couple last saw Cruz, who has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, at the Broward County Sheriff's office. Dressed in a hospital gown, he was handcuffed and surrounded by deputies.

"He said he was sorry. He apologised. He looked lost, absolutely lost," said James Snead. "And that was the last time we saw him."

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