Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who killed 17 people when he opened fire on students at a Parkland, Florida, high school, was no stranger to the Broward County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies responded to at least 36 emergency 911 calls from 2010 until November 2016 coming from the Cruz home in Parkland, Buzzfeed reported. Cruz lived with his younger brother, Zachary, and mother, who passed away last November at the age of 68.
On Sept. 26, 2016, deputies responded to a 911 call that an 18-year-old male was fighting with his mother. When the officers arrived, Cruz’s mother told them her son had been cutting his arms to get attention, having learned the practice from his ex-girlfriend.
“He has mentioned in the past that he would like to purchase a firearm,” the police report said, according to Buzzfeed.
A deputy noted that Cruz suffers from mental illness.
However, at the time, a therapist with Henderson Mental Health, “deemed Nikolas to be no threat to anyone or himself at this present time,” according to the report.
Even with all of the calls to the Cruz home because of disturbing behavior by the teen, Cruz was never arrested until he walked into his former school on Valentine’s Day and opened fire with an AR-15 style rifle.
The sheriff’s reports read like red flags, signs missed or not taken seriously enough that Cruz, as well as his brother, suffered from mental illness. Reports consistently included that the two erratic brothers repeatedly “threw items,” were “out of control,” “ran away from home,” and fought and argued loudly with their mother and each other.
Cruz had sought treatment at Henderson Mental Health Clinic and had attended a school for students with behavioral problems.
Back in August 2012, the mother, Lydia Cruz, called 911 one time because her sons, then just 12 and 13, were threatening her. Another time, police came because Cruz had beaten up his brother. A few weeks later, the officers returned after he attacked his mother with the plastic hose from the vacuum cleaner, one report says, according to Buzzfeed.
At age 14, police reports show his mother complained that his behavior had become more violent after she took away his video games. Cruz, then 14, threw a chair, dog bowl, and glass across the room, screaming that his mom was a “useless bitch,” according to sheriff’s report said.
After the teen barricaded himself in his room, deputies briefly handcuffed him and put him in the back of a squad car until a youth emergency services counselor arrived.
Nearly a year later, Cruz punched a hole in the wall after his mother took away his Xbox.