Despite warnings from counselors that her son should not have firearms, the mother of the suspect in the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, allowed him to have guns, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.
“His mother was an enabler, and his mother contributed to this significantly,” said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri at a meeting of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which he chairs. “To the point where at one time when they said that he wanted to buy a gun and the counselors from the school said he shouldn’t have a gun, his mother said: ‘I don’t care. If he wants a gun, he can have a gun.’”
The suspect’s mother, Lynda Cruz, died from complications with the flu in November 2017, about three months before the shooting, which took place on Feb. 14, WLRN said.
Mental health counselors had contact with Nikolas Cruz at least 140 times in the years before the shooting, The Associated Press said.
Gualtieri said that many people made significant efforts “to try and get this guy off the path he was on,” according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The commission – comprising law enforcement, education and mental health officials, lawmakers and parents of victims – was established by the Florida Legislature to analyze the school attack that left 17 people dead and other mass violence incidents in the state and to make recommendations. Its report is due Jan. 1, 2019.
One of the interventions the committee looked at was the Promise program, which addresses various misdemeanor offenses at school instead of involving the criminal justice system. Cruz was assigned to the program in 2013 after vandalizing a restroom faucet, the Sun-Sentinel reported, but it’s unclear whether he actually participated.
“The records are inconsistent and inconclusive as to where Cruz was during his assignment to Promise on the three days in 2013,” according to a report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Gualtieri said the Promise program was not to blame for the school shooting, according to the Miami Herald. “It would never in any way, shape, form, would’ve affected his ability to buy that AR-15, to buy the shotguns, to buy anything else, to possess them,” he said.
Cruz is charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. His attorneys have said he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence without parole.