State investigated school shooting suspect after self-harm
Florida’s child welfare agency investigated the suspect in a school shooting that killed 17 people after he cut himself in a video but found him stable, according to state records.
The Miami Herald obtained records from Florida’s Department of Children and Families and reported Saturday that Nikolas Cruz posted a video on the social media network Snapchat showing him cutting his arms in 2016.
The agency was called to investigate. Cruz, then 18, was listed as an “alleged victim” of medical neglect and inadequate supervision; his adoptive mother, then-68-year-old Lynda Cruz, the “alleged perpetrator.”
“Mr. Cruz was on Snapchat cutting both of his arms,” the Florida DCF abuse hotline was told in August 2016. “Mr. Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms. Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun.”
According to the paper, DCF’s investigation was completed that Nov. 12. The agency concluded that Cruz had not been mistreated by his mother, was receiving adequate care from a mental health counselor and was attending school.
“Henderson came out and assessed the (victim and) found him to be stable enough not to be hospitalized,” the DCF report said.
Cruz had been diagnosed with autism, a neurological disorder that often leads to social awkwardness and isolation, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
The documents provide further evidence that Cruz was a troubled teen before being charged with 17 counts of murder in the Wednesday attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
On Friday, President Donald Trump visited Broward Health North Hospital, where he saw two victims and praised the doctors and nurses for their “incredible” job. With first lady Melania Trump, he also paid his respects to law enforcement officials in Fort Lauderdale, telling officers he hoped they were “getting the credit” they deserved.
Asked if he’d talked with victims, Trump added: “I did, indeed, and it’s very sad something like that could happen.”
Trump is spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) from the shooting scene.
Also Friday, an activist and teacher who wants gun control laws was removed from a Miami-area GOP fundraiser after confronting House Speaker Paul Ryan about this week’s mass shooting.
The Miami Herald reports that Maria Thorne, a Key Biscayne fifth-grade teacher, said she and a friend dropped in on the fundraiser at the Ritz Hotel after she noticed motorcade traffic clogging up her commute home.
Thorne said she shook Ryan’s hand and introduced herself but added, “You’re here celebrating the death of 17 children.”
She said Ryan told her he “didn’t want to talk politics” or argue. When Thorne tried to continue, security escorted her out as she chanted “No more guns!”
The National Republican Congressional Committee lists a 2018 Winter Meeting in Key Biscayne this weekend. Ryan’s spokesperson confirmed to the Herald that he attended it.
More funerals were scheduled for Saturday. As families buried their dead, authorities questioned whether they could have prevented the attack
The FBI said it received a tip last month that Cruz had a “desire to kill” and access to guns and could be plotting an attack, but agents failed to investigate. The governor called for the FBI director to resign.
A person close to Cruz called the FBI’s tip line on Jan. 5 and provided information about Cruz’s weapons and his erratic behavior, including his disturbing social media posts. The caller was concerned that Cruz could attack a school.
In a statement, the agency acknowledged that the tip should have been shared with the FBI’s Miami office and investigated, but it was not. The startling admission came as the agency was already facing criticism for its treatment of a tip about a YouTube comment posted last year. The comment posted by a “Nikolas Cruz” said, “Im going to be a professional school shooter.”
The FBI investigated the remark but did not determine who made it.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the shooting that killed 17 people Wednesday was a “tragic consequence” of the FBI’s missteps and ordered a review of the Justice Department’s processes. He said it’s now clear that the nation’s premier law enforcement agency missed warning signs.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said his office had received more than 20 calls about Cruz in the past few years.
Lush reported from St. Petersburg, Florida.