NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – The suburban Lantana woman who took in confessed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High gunman Nikolas Cruz, and his brother Zachary, immediately after their mother died feels the system failed the victims of the Parkland tragedy
Rocxanne Deschamps was the next door neighbor of Linda Cruz and promised to help the boys out if anything happened to her.
As a mother of three, Deschamps wants all schools to be safe places and supports those marching this Saturday for safer schools and gun control.
Wednesday afternoon, she held a news conference with her attorney Gloria Allred.
“In my opinion, Rocxanne is a hero for her efforts to try and prevent what happened. She told everything that she knew about Nikolas and guns and his mental health issues each and every time the police came after 911 calls from her home,” said Allred.
Allred said law enforcement told Deschamps there was little they could do despite the warning signs that she told them about.
“Her heart is broken for all of those who have suffered,” said Allred.
Reading from a prepared statement, Deschamps said her son used to play with Nikolas and Zachary when they were boys. She added that the two families grew very close.
“She was like my mom,” said Deschamps.
Deschamps said in 2106, she stayed at Linda Cruz’s house for three weeks to watch the children while Cruz was in the hospital. It was then that she first spotted at least five rifles on the floor of Nikolas closet.
She said the guns didn’t look like something one would use for hunting, they looked more like military weapons.
Deschamps said she told her older to son to make sure all the rifles were unloaded and to put the ammunition in the safe. Deschamps said Linda knew about the guns but was afraid to confront her son.
“Linda was afraid to do it herself because she was afraid of Nikolas. I explained to Nikolas that I was concerned about my younger child, that he could not be around loaded guns,” said Deschamps.
“I also made sure that Nikolas was never alone with my young son and either I or my older son was there to make sure that we were all safe,” she added.
Deschamps said her concerns about the guns ran deep since Linda told her that Nikolas once put a gun to her head.
She said after Linda Cruz died last year, she kept her word and took the boys in.
“I told Nikolas he was not allowed to bring his guns into my house with the exception of the BB gun which was to be locked in my adult son’s room. All the other guns were taken to a friend’s house where I was assured by the friend’s parents that they would be locked up,” said Deschamps.
Deschamps said Nikolas lived with them for a little less than a month. She said at first he was on his best behavior but that soon changed and that led to a series of calls to 911.
She said the first call was about a gun he had bought without her knowledge. She said he may have been 19 but he was mentally and emotionally the age of a 12-year-old. The police told her despite this, there was nothing they could do to stop him from purchasing guns.
Another call to 911 involved Nikolas punching holes in the walls of her home and hitting his adult son. When officers arrived, she said Nikolas was gone. She told the police she feared he may come back with a gun. Again, the police said there was nothing that could be done.
“When Nikolas returned to the house I told him to chose, the gun or us, he couldn’t have both,” she said. “He chose the gun.”
Deschamps said she told him that she could not have guns or violence in her house and that he would need another place to stay.
“I could not live in fear in my own home,” she said.
Deschamps said Nikolas went to a friend’s house to live with them and she warned the parents about Nikolas. She said that living arrangement didn’t last very long.
She said he then moved into the home of James and Kimberly Snead. They have insisted that Cruz showed no warning signs that he was about to do harm to himself or others.
Deschamps said the day before the shooting, Nikolas sent her a text saying he was worried about the dogs.
“My heart goes out to the victims, the 17 victims who were killed in the shooting, the 17 victims were who injured and their families,” she said.
Deschamps said she did everything she could to warn law enforcement.
“I wanted to protect not only my children but also everyone else who may be at risk,” she said. “I also wanted to protect Nikolas from himself.”