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CORAL SPRINGS (CBSMiami) – Nikolas Cruz, the suspected gunman who opened fire in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, was a former student who had allegedly threatened students in the past.
After watching school security video, investigators were able to identify the shooter as Nikolas Cruz, 19. Cruz had attended and was expelled from the school the previous year, according to BSO.
Jim Gard, a teacher at the school, told CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald they had problems with Cruz last year and he was asked to leave the campus. He seemed to recall an email sent out earlier warning teachers that Cruz had made some threats and wasn’t allowed on the campus with a backpack.
Seventeen people were killed and 14 others were injured, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
According to a source close to the investigation, Cruz went to the school with extra clothes in a duffel bag.
After the shooting, BSO says he concealed himself in the crowd and was among those running out of the school.
Cruz was taken into custody a short time later by Coconut Creek PD in a nearby neighborhood in Coral Springs. Cruz exhibited labored breathing. He was transported to a local hospital as a precaution for medical clearance.
“All I heard was ‘get on the ground, get on the ground,’” a witness to the arrest said. “And the guy got on the ground and the police officers have their guns drawn. And he said, ‘stay on the ground, stay on the ground.’”
“I got on TV and I saw the chopper and I saw, oh my god, there’s my house,” said another witness who did not want to reveal his identity. It happened by his backyard hedge that butts up against the road.
“Ten minutes earlier I would have been out there walking the dogs,” he said. “What if I was right there?”
Cruz was taken to Broward Health North in an ambulance with heavy police guard.
He wasn’t there long. Cruz was later brought to BSO headquarters still wearing his hospital gown.
Detectives are learning more about him.
Former classmate Eddie Bonilla said he knew Cruz before he got kicked out of school.
“He got kicked out of school last year,” said Bonilla. “He always had guns on him and stuff like that.”
He said he was not surprised by the arrest.
“Honestly a lot of people a lot of people were saying it was going to be him,” Bonilla said. “We actually, a lot of kids threw jokes around Ike that, saying that he’s the one to shoot up the school, but it turns out everyone predicted it. It’s crazy.”
Alex Azar remembers him too.
“He always seemed like the unstable type, the type who would do this sort of thing,” Azar remembers. “He was always in the office. He was always in trouble, very unstable. He had that look to him, kind of sinister.”
School Superintendent Robert Runcie said there were no warnings that something like this would happen.
“We received no warnings,” Runcie told reporters outside the school. “Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn’t have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.”
The weapon Cruz reportedly used for Wednesday’s shooting was an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle.