Our hearts are heavy this morning as we continue to learn more about the tragedy that unfolded in Florida yesterday. May the families, friends and colleagues of the victims find peace during this difficult time.
Police say an Uber car dropped off Nikolas Cruz at his former school around 2:19 p.m. on Wednesday.
Within 10 minutes, authorities say he gunned down 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and left campus undetected in a crowd of students.
Now, as the 19-year-old gunman begins his journey through the criminal justice system, a community is in mourning and investigators are looking for answers.
What we know about the shooter
The Sheriff’s Office identified the 17 victims Thursday afternoon. As he read the names, the Sheriff Scott Israel acknowledged his “special friend,” the school’s assistant football coach Aaron Feis, who threw himself in front of students as bullets flew.
Cruz confessed to police to being the gunman, according to a probable cause affidavit. His public defender described him as a “deeply disturbed, emotionally broken” young man who is coming to grips with the pain he has caused.
“He’s gone through a lot in a very short period of time and that does not minimize the loss of those families, but we have to put that into the proper light,” Gordon Weekes said. “He is suffering from significant mental illness and significant trauma and he has some very difficult decisions to make shortly and we’re going to assist him with those decisions.”
Meanwhile, Cruz’s digital footprint offers disturbing glimpses into his mind.
He hurled slurs at blacks and Muslims, and according to the Anti-Defamation League, had ties to white supremacists. He said he would shoot people with his AR-15 and singled out police and anti-fascist protesters as deserving of his vengeance.