PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – The investigation into the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has revealed it could have been worse.
Seventeen people were killed when alleged gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, went on a shooting spree inside the school. More than a dozen were injured.
A source close to the investigation said 120 rounds of unspent ammunition were found in a rifle bag that Cruz reportedly left at the school. Also, at one point he allegedly went to a teacher’s lounge on the third floor in an attempt to shoot down towards fleeing students but impact glass prevented that from happening.
Cruz then allegedly changed clothes, ran down the stairs and left the building trying to blend in with other students who were running the school.
Just before 3 p.m., he went to a Walmart where he bought a drink at the Subway before leaving. He then went to a McDonald’s where he hung out for a while and then left.
Around 3:40 p.m, he was spotted by a Coconut Creek police officer in the 4700 block of Wyndham Lakes Drive in Coral Springs where he was detained until Broward Sheriff’s deputies arrived took him into custody as the suspected shooter.
Cruz, who is accused of carrying out the premeditated and sustained assault on the students, teachers, and staff with an AR-15 assault-style rifle, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. During his first court appearance, he was denied bond.
Some people in the Parkland community feel this could have been prevented, not by the police but by them.
“The problem is from the community. Everyone created this because nobody was never for him. He needed someone to be there for him I’m sorry I was not there for him,” said student Ethan Trieu
A man who knew Cruz’s mother when she and his half-brother lived in Parkland remembered one incident involving Nikolas and gun.
“He was in the backyard with a BB gun and we called BSO and they came over,” he said.
The man, who did not want his name used, used to be in law enforcement. He remembered Cruz as a loner and was surprised to learn that the sheriff’s office had received 39 calls to the Cruz home between March 2011 and October 2016 for incidents including domestic disturbances and a mentally ill person.
Cruz’s mother died in November from the flu.
“She was a good mother. She adopted kids at birth and there were two brothers. The dad passed away from a heart attack. She was a single mom and she was a great mom. I knew her personally,” he said.
“He went through a lot of changes with his dad. After he died and the mom died and the stress and that’s what may have set him off,” he added. “Mental illness is a disease issue. He was slightly autistic and that was a big issue too along with the parents.”
According to his arrest report, Cruz confessed to carrying out a planned and violent attack at his former school. It also states that after the attack, ”as students began to flee the campus on foot he decided a plan to discard the AR15 and vest with the additional magazines so he could blend into the crowd.”
“As a hunter, I grew up hunting, AR-15’s aren’t for hunting, they’re for killing,” said Sen. Bill Nelson on Friday in Parkland.
The senator said he applauds the students and their families’ loud calls for gun law changes after this latest tragic shooting.
“The kids are just terrific, the fact that they are speaking up as boldly as they are, maybe that’s the turning point,” he said.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives determined that Cruz bought the gun in February 2017 from a gun store in Sunrise. The attorney for the family who owns the gun shop says they had no indication what Cruz was going to use the weapon for.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School remains closed.
Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie told CBS4’s Jim DeFede that no student will ever walk back into the building where the shooting took place. He plans to seek funding from Tallahassee to have a new building constructed somewhere on the campus. Runcie wants the building where the shooting to place to be razed and memorial put in its place.