More details are coming to light about the life of Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz and what might have driven him to allegedly unleash a rampage that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14.
A student at the school told the Sun-Sentinel of a disturbing incident in which she said Cruz clutched a dead bird to his crotch during reading class. The student didn’t report the incident, believing the weird scene from last school year wasn’t any of her business.
“He always stared at everyone,” Stoneman Douglas senior Tyra Hemans told the newspaper of Cruz, whom she sat across from during her first-period reading class. They were both juniors at the time.
Hemans said she once saw Cruz holding his hand against his crotch during the class.
“I looked close, and I saw he was holding a dead bird near his genitalia,” Hemans told the paper. “I saw some feathers, and I knew it was a bird. That was disturbing. But I just looked away because it wasn’t my business.”
She said she now wonders if Cruz had been carrying the board around his lunchbox.
While Hemans didn’t tell a teacher at the school, she did share it with her friend Meadow Pollack, who was one of the students murdered on Feb. 14.
“We kept it to ourselves,” Hemans told the Sun-Sentinel.
The FBI also received a tip that Cruz took a dead bird into the kitchen of his home and cut it open, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
The newspaper also reports that Cruz was bullied by his younger brother in the years after he watched his father die of a heart attack; he was 5 years old at the time. On the day his father died, Cruz reportedly walked into the kitchen crying. His mom, Lydia, asked him, “What’s the matter, did Daddy punish you?” Cruz answered, “Nope. Daddy’s dead.”
After the Feb. 14 massacre, Cruz’s brother, Zachary, 18, admitted to Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies that he and his friends had bullied Cruz and said he regretted doing so. He said he wished he had been “nicer” to his brother, according to the Sun-Sentinel.