Florida, angry and grieving, takes gun protest to streets
Thousands of angry students, parents and residents demanded stricter gun-control laws Saturday as new details were revealed about the suspect accused of shooting and killing 17 people in a Florida high school.
The rally, held in downtown Fort Lauderdale, was attended by scores of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the carnage happened.
Teens spoke passionately during Saturday’s rally in front of the federal courthouse, pleading with lawmakers to change the nation’s gun laws.
One student, Emma Gonzalez, angrily criticized politicians who take campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association. She challenged them to stop taking money, leading the crowd in a call-and-response chant.
“They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun,” she said, and the crowd chanted, “We call BS.”
She also said adults who knew that the shooter was mentally ill should have done more to prevent him from having a weapon.
From a mosaic of public records, interviews with friends and family and online interactions, it appears that Cruz was unstable and violent to himself and those around him – and that when notified about his threatening behavior, law enforcement did little to stop it.
He reportedly left a suburban Palm Beach County mobile home in November because his benefactor gave him an ultimatum: you or the gun.
The Palm Beach Post reports Rocxanne Deschamps said, “He bought a gun and wanted to bring it into my house” in public comments that have since been removed from her Facebook page.
Chad Bennett, a friend of Deschamps’, said Nikolas Cruz “chose the gun and he left.”
He then went to live with another family; his mother died in November and his father died years ago.
Florida’s child welfare agency investigated after he cut himself in an online video but found him stable, according to state records.
The Sun-Sentinel reported that Florida’s Department of Children and Families investigated when 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 hot line was told in August 2016, the paper reported. “Mr. Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms. Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun. It is unknown what he is buying the gun for.”
According to the paper, DCF’s investigation was completed that Nov. 12. Cruz had been diagnosed with autism and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.