Police say Florida school shooter confessed, give details of how he almost got away
The suspect in the Parkland, Florida high school shooting that claimed 17 lives has confessed to the attack. Police have released details of his movements before he was captured.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, was charged on Thursday with premeditated murder of 17 people and wounding another 14 at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He confessed to being the attacker, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office report cited by AP.
He told the interrogators that he “began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on school grounds” on Wednesday, and that he had “brought additional loaded magazines to the school campus and kept them hidden in a backpack until he got on campus to begin his assault,” according to the report.
As students began to flee the school, Cruz discarded his AR-15 rifle and the vest he was wearing, so he could blend in with the crowd. After successfully leaving the school grounds, Cruz headed to a Walmart, and stopped by a Subway and a McDonald’s, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference on Thursday.
Officer Michael Leonard of the Coconut Creek Police Department encountered Cruz about 40 minutes after the suspect had left the McDonald’s, and decided to confront him.
“He complied with my commands and was taken into custody without any issues,” Leonard told reporters.
A judge ordered Cruz to be held without bond on Thursday. His public defender, Melisa McNeill, said that he was sad and remorseful. Cruz was fully aware of what was going on and is a “broken human being,” McNeill said.
Police have recovered the rifle and the vest that Cruz had discarded. The sheriff’s report says that Cruz purchased the rifle in February 2017, but does not say where.
Cruz was reportedly expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas over disciplinary issues. Jordan Jereb, the leader of the “Republic of Florida” white identitarian militia, told AP on Thursday that Cruz took part in some activities with the group, but “acted on his own behalf” in the school attack.
Jereb also said Cruz had “trouble with a girl” and believes it wasn’t a coincidence the attack was carried out on Valentine’s Day.
Jereb later backtracked on his words. Police in Tallahassee, where the ROF is based, said they have “no known ties” to connect Cruz to the group.