The couple who took in Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who confessed to opening fire at a South Florida high school last week, say he seemed “normal” the morning of the deadly shooting.
Kimberly and James Snead of Coral Springs, Florida, allowed Cruz, a friend of their son, to live in their home after his adopted mother died in November. The couple spoke out about their relationship with Cruz on Monday in their first TV interview since the shooting, which left 17 people dead and more than a dozen others injured.
“The only thing that was maybe different was that he didn’t go to school ... that particular morning,” Kimberly Snead told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Cruz told the Sneads that he “didn’t go to school on Valentine’s Day,” James Snead said.
“I still can’t process it because this isn’t the person we knew,” Kimberly Snead continued. “Not at all.”
Cruz, previously expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, told police that he used an assault-style rifle to carry out the attack on the school Wednesday.
The FBI admitted Friday that the agency had failed to follow protocol after receiving a tip from a caller in January who claimed Cruz had a “desire to kill people” and “the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”
The law enforcement agency was also alerted to Cruz’s behavior in September, when a Mississippi man reported a comment that a YouTube user named “nikolas cruz” had left on a video. The comment said, “Im going to be a professional school shooter.”
Cruz’s classmates said he bragged about his “arsenal” of weapons and killing toads on his social media accounts, according to The New York Times.
But the Sneads said Monday that they weren’t aware of any apparent red flags.
“Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know,” James Snead said on “Good Morning America.” “We had rules and he followed every rule to the T. ... He was very polite. He seemed normal.”
“As far as the animal killings, he never did anything like that at our house,” he said. “We have animals and he loved our animals. Our animals loved him.”
Cruz was charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He is being held without bail. Kimberly Snead described being overcome with emotion when she first saw Cruz at the police station after the shooting.
“I really wanted to strangle him more than anything,” she said. “I tried to reserve myself. I said, ‘Really, Nik? Really?’ I yelled at him. He mumbled something, but I didn’t hear him. He said he was sorry. ... I was just furious and heartbroken.”
“I can’t imagine the pain [the victims’ families] must be feeling,” she said. “Nothing that we can say is going to be any kind of help. We’re very sorry that they had this experience and it never should have happened.”