PARKLAND, Fla. — Broward County deputies received at least 18 calls warning them about Nikolas Cruz from 2008 to 2017, including concerns that he "planned to shoot up the school" and other threats and acts of violence before he was accused of killing 17 people at a high school.
The warnings, made by concerned people close to Cruz, came in phone calls to the Broward County Sheriff's Office, records show. At least five callers mentioned concern over his access to weapons, according to the documents. None of those warnings led to direct intervention.
In February 2016, neighbors told police that they were worried he “planned to shoot up the school” after seeing alarming pictures on Instagram showing Cruz brandishing guns.
About two months later, an unidentified caller told police that Cruz had been collecting guns and knives. The caller was “concerned (Cruz) will kill himself one day and believes he could be a school shooter in the making,” according to call details released by the Sheriff's Office.
A second cousin asked police to take away Cruz's guns after his mom died Nov. 1. "Nikolas is reported to have rifles and it is requested that (deputies) recover these weapons," the dispatcher noted from the call.
The new details add to the growing list of red flags missed by law enforcement officials, including the FBI, in the months leading up to last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The FBI is reviewing why a tip last month called into the agency about Cruz's desire to kill people was not forwarded to Miami agents for investigation.
The Sheriff’s Office has since opened two internal affairs investigations looking into whether its deputies followed the department’s standards after receiving two phone calls.
After the February 2016 call, a deputy forwarded the information to the Stoneman Douglas School Resource Officer, Deputy Scot Peterson.
“Third hand information received from neighbor’s son that Nikolas Cruz planned to shoot up the school on Instagram (Picture of juvenile with guns)," according to the notes from a dispatcher taking the call.
The deputy had "determined Nikolas Cruz possessed knives and a BB gun" before passing it along to Peterson. It's not clear what, if anything, Peterson did with the information.
Peterson, 54, retired after an internal investigation was launched into why he sat outside the school for about four minutes and never entered as the shooter killed students and staff.
Two deputies, Edward Eason and Guntis Treijis, have been placed on restricted administrative assignment, pending an investigation into how they handled calls, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.
After the November call from a relative to the sheriff's office, deputies referred the caller to the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office. Cruz, 19, had moved in with a family in Lake Worth after his mother died.
But deputies there never investigated a potential threat at the new address, according to incident reports obtained by USA TODAY NETWORK — FLORIDA.
In late November, Palm Beach County deputies responded to a battery call after Cruz punched Rock Deschamps, the 22-year-old son of Roxcanne Deschamps, who took him in after his mother died. Rock Deschamps told deputies he didn’t want to press charges.
In 2008, Broward deputies received their first call involving Cruz, 10 at the time, after a boy threw a rock at him and Cruz retaliated, records show.
The violent incidents became more frequent in Cruz’s adolescence.
In 2012, his mother called police after Cruz hit her with a "plastic hose from the vacuum cleaner," according to a summary of the call.
The summary noted the "matter resolved. No report initiated."
The next year Cruz’s mother called again after he threw her against the wall because she took away his Xbox game system.
A counselor at Henderson Behavioral Health responded and advised that involuntary commitment wasn’t warranted. Cruz "punched the wall because she took away his Xbox" another time, according to a summary of a call to deputies.
"Deputy responded. No crime identified by deputy," the dispatcher noted.
Friends and relatives said Cruz — diagnosed with depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and autism — had a long history of violent outbursts.
“He’d lose his temper, hit walls, throw things," said Paul Gold, a former boyfriend of Roxcanne Deschamps who had known Cruz for eight years and drove him to his mother’s funeral. "Not the kind of kid who’d you’d put a gun in his hand.”
Deputies also were told Cruz could be a danger to himself. On Sept. 28, 2016, deputies and social workers were called to Stoneman Douglas High School after receiving reports that Cruz had attempted suicide by drinking gasoline a week earlier and was cutting himself.
The Florida Department of Children and Families launched an investigation into the reported self-cutting and allegations of neglect that same day, according to a DCF report on the incident.
Authorities chose not to commit Cruz at the time under the Baker Act, a law in Florida that allows authorities to hospitalize people for mental evaluation. The decision came under the advisement of clinicians at Henderson Behavioral Health, which school counselors worried may have been "premature" in their advice, according to the DCF notes.
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