More disturbing details have emerged about the suspect charged in the Wednesday shooting at a high school in Florida.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, allegedly opened fire with an AR-15 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, killing at least 17 people. Cruz was charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Many of Cruz’s classmates and neighbors did not seem surprised at his actions, pointing to his interactions with animals and what he posted on social media as evidence of his mental health issues, the U.K. Daily Mail reported.
Malcolm Roxburgh, one of his neighbors, said that Cruz seemed to target the family across the street who had pigs.
‘He didn’t like the pigs and didn’t like the neighbors, so he sent over his dog over there to try to attack them,” Roxburgh said, according to the Daily Mail.
A different neighbor, Shelby Speno, said that she saw Cruz shooting at someone’s chickens.
Cruz’s neighbors were not the only ones who noticed his wrongful treatment of animals, his former classmates recalled disturbing social media posts.
Dakota Mutchler, one of Cruz’s classmates, told the Daily Mail that Cruz had posted things on Instagram about killing animals and even talked about doing target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun.
A different student said that Cruz’s mental health issues were “ignored by all the adults.”
“He literally had an Instagram where he posted pictures of animals he killed gruesomely and he physically assaulted one of my friends once,” the student said.
Joshua Charo, another former classmate, told the Miami Herald that “(Cruz) seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this.”
“He used to tell me he would shoot rats with his BB gun and he wanted this kind of gun, and how he liked to always shoot for practice.”
On Wednesday, YouTube user Ben Bennight posted a video to the platform claiming that in September 2017, a user named “Nikolas Cruz” posted a disturbing comment on one of his videos.
“Im going to be a professional school shooter,” the comment read.
On top of the social media posts, Jordan Jereb — the leader of a white nationalist militia — said Thursday that Cruz was a member of his group.
Jereb’s organization, the Republic of Florida, wants Florida to “become its own white ethno-state,” The Associated Press reported.
Though the group tries to avoid most involvement with the modern world, Jereb told the AP that they hold “spontaneous random demonstrations.” Cruz, Jereb said, used to participate in paramilitary drills with the white nationalist group in Tallahassee.
Jereb did not know Cruz personally, but he did note that the suspected killer was having “trouble with a girl.” As a result, he thinks it was no coincidence that the attack was carried out on Valentine’s Day.
Still, Jereb emphasized that Cruz “acted on his own behalf of what he just did and he’s solely responsible for what he just did.”
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