Park­land shooter: ‘Hi, I’m Nik, and I like to see peo­ple in pain’

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - Local - By Brit­tany Wall­man and Me­gan O’Matz

FORT LAUD­ERDALE — While Nikolas Cruz was still a stu­dent at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High, ad­min­is­tra­tors were warned that he was look­ing at guns on a school com­puter and told a school­mate that he liked “to see peo­ple in pain.”

A school of­fi­cial told the stu­dent who com­plained to mind his own busi­ness, the stu­dent’s fa­ther told the South Florida Sun Sen­tinel on Fri­day.

Cruz had told the stu­dent’s brother “he wanted to shoot up the school,” a wit­ness state­ment re­leased by the State At­tor­ney’s Of­fice on Fri­day says. The stu­dent’s girl­friend gave a sworn state­ment the night of the Feb. 14 shoot­ing. In an in­ter­view Fri­day, the boys’ fa­ther helped fill in the de­tails.

The episode is yet an­other alert made to ad­min­is­tra­tors at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School that Cruz might be dan­ger­ous. For years, the school dis­trict had known he was ob­sessed with guns and vi­o­lence. In early 2016, a neigh­bor alerted the Broward Sher­iff’s Of­fice that Cruz threat­ened on In­sta­gram to shoot up a school. Cruz also used the school com­puter to re­search how to make a nail bomb. And school of­fi­cials were alerted in fall of 2016 that he threat­ened to kill a class­mate.

Cruz con­fessed to killing 17 peo­ple and in­jur­ing 17 oth­ers in the Park­land high school shoot­ing he used to at­tend. He is await­ing trial.

Af­ter watch­ing a video about school shoot­ings, Hunter Dubois, a fresh­man at the time, thought Cruz fit the pro­file. He took his con­cerns to As­sis­tant Prin­ci­pal Jeff Mor­ford, his fa­ther, An­thony Dubois, told the Sun Sen­tinel. He had seen Cruz look­ing at guns on the com­puter, and heard him make “crazy state­ments,” Dubois said.

When they met for the first time, he told Hunter, “Hi, I’m Nik, and I like to see peo­ple in pain.” He would aim his fin­gers at birds in the sky pre­tend­ing he was shoot­ing them, his fa­ther said.

The se­nior Dubois said his son was told by Mor­ford that he “should look into autism.”

Cruz was thought to have autism. He also was di­ag­nosed with ob­ses­sive com­pul­sive dis­or­der and at­ten­tion deficit hyper­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der (ADHD).

“He was in­formed that he shouldn’t be get­ting into other peo­ple’s busi­ness and not to worry about him, he’s be­ing dealt with,” Dubois told the Sun Sen­tinel.

Broward schools spokes­woman Tracy Clark said she couldn’t an­swer ques­tions about the threat and what school of­fi­cials did to re­spond to it, in­clud­ing whether they in­sti­tuted any se­cu­rity pre­cau­tions specif­i­cally re­lated to Cruz’s threats.

“Our of­fice is un­able to pro­vide any in­for­ma­tion on your in­quiry, as this falls un­der the rules pro­tect­ing stu­dent in­for­ma­tion and records,” she re­sponded in an email Fri­day.

Cruz was forced to with­draw from the school shortly af­ter the in­ci­dent.

Dubois said his son was up­set that his com­plaint didn’t pre­vent the shoot­ing.

“He’s like, ‘How did this hap­pen? I re­ported him and he still did this.’ And I tried to ex­plain to him, ‘You did your job right. You did 100 per­cent what you were sup­posed to do. It was the school and law en­force­ment that failed.”

Hunter’s older brother, An­thony Dubois, was in Ju­nior ROTC class with Cruz. An­thony’s girl­friend, Ash­ley Kor­be­lak, came for­ward to BSO deputies the evening of the shoot­ing, af­ter rec­og­niz­ing Cruz in pho­to­graphs. She said Cruz made threats in fall 2016 about a school shoot­ing to his class­mate Dubois.

“He said to An­thony,

‘Don’t come to school to­mor­row

be­cause this is go­ing to hap­pen,’ ” Kor­be­lak told BSO Det. Brian Tut­ler. “He took that threat very se­ri­ously and re­ported him to school ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

The boys’ fa­ther said he didn’t re­call that spe­cific threat, but said it was his younger son who com­plained to the school.

Kor­be­lak said she and her boyfriend saw Cruz at a Wal­mart that same school year. She said he ap­peared di­sheveled and “he was hid­ing be­hind … the rows of mer­chan­dise. And he would keep look­ing from side to side.”

She said he had leaves in his hair, and “a few branches.” She over­head him telling her boyfriend An­thony Dubois that he was “look­ing for a gun.” He “did kind of a back al­ley deal with this guy. Where he would give him the money im­me­di­ately then would prom­ise to leave the gun in um … the bushes,” she told the de­tec­tive.

Even af­ter he was trans­ferred to an al­ter­na­tive school, Cruz could have been pre­vented from do­ing harm, An­thony Dubois, the fa­ther, said, “if he was reached by the right peo­ple, to help him the proper way.”

In other state­ments to de­tec­tives:

An­thony Kat­sikis, a worker at Wal­mart near the school, told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that as news un­folded of the calamity he ap­proached two male teens sit­ting on a bench in­side the store. They were ob­vi­ously from Stone­man Dou­glas. He asked them what hap­pened.

Later, he re­al­ized he had been speak­ing to Cruz him­self, who told him there’d been a shoot­ing.

Many other stu­dents in the store were cry­ing, but Cruz was calm.

“I just re­mem­ber that he just wasn’t fazed by it,” Kat­sikis told a de­tec­tive.

“He was kinda like non­cha­lant.”

An 11th-grader from room 1214 hid be­hind a small file cab­i­net in a cor­ner di­ag­o­nal from the win­dow of the door Cruz shot through.

He said Cruz wore a black hat, black sun­glasses, and a bul­let­proof vest.

A ninth grade boy, in­ter­viewed in the pe­di­atric emer­gency room at Broward Health in Fort Laud­erdale, told a de­tec­tive he was in study hall when the fire alarm rang and he and other stu­dents went out into the hall. But the exit doors were locked.

Soon, peo­ple started scream­ing and they ran to try to get back into the class­room, but it was too late.

Cruz pointed a weapon at him.

The boy dove for cover in an al­cove out­side a locked bath­room and was hit in the leg by a ric­o­chet­ing bul­let.

“I thought I was go­ing to die,” he told a de­tec­tive. “I was truly, truly scared.”

He said Cruz wore a “gray­ish shirt” and a hoodie and he looked “like death” be­cause “you couldn’t see his face, it was like empty.”

“It was like empty, just dark­ness,” he said, as the de­tec­tive strug­gled to un­der­stand.

He grap­pled for the right ter­mi­nol­ogy, say­ing if you looked up a pic­ture of death on the In­ter­net, it would look like Cruz that day — hooded, with dark­ness in­side.

“So kind of like the Grim Reaper?” the de­tec­tive asked.

“The Grim Reaper, ex­actly.”

NIKOLAS CRUZ VIA IN­STA­GRAM

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