- Susan Stocker/Reuters
- Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who confessed to killing 17 people at a Florida high school this week, was part of a private group chat in which he and five other people frequently shared racist comments, memes, and videos, CNN reported.
- Cruz often discussed his hatred for minorities, including Mexicans, black people, Jews, gays, and immigrants.
- In the days since the massacre, students, teachers, and neighbors have described Cruz as an isolated individual with violent tendencies.
According to the messages, Cruz said he wanted to kill Mexicans and gays and keep black people in chains. He also accused Jews of trying to destroy the world. Cruz named the group chat, “Murica [American flag emoji] [eagle emoji] great,” the report said.
The group involved Cruz and five other people who CNN said appeared to be under the age of 18. In addition to denigrating minority groups and immigrants, members posted hundreds of racist messages, memes, and videos to the private chat.
Cruz reportedly said he hated black people simply because of the color of their skin. When a member of the chat group mentioned gay people, Cruz replied, “Shoot them in the back of the head.”
While all the participants espoused overtly racist beliefs and demonstrated an obsession with violence and guns, Cruz appeared to be the most extreme.
In one exchange that CNN reported, a fellow group member said that although he hated black people too, it wasn’t “to a point I wanna kill the [sic] like nick.”
On Wednesday, Cruz shot and killed 17 students and teachers with a legally-purchased AR-15 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The next day, police said Cruz confessed to committing the massacre. He has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
A history of run-ins with police
Many students and teachers described Cruz as an outcast while he was attending Stoneman Douglas. He was later expelled because of bad behavior. He also had a long history of run-ins with law enforcement. Police were called to Cruz’s home “dozens” of times as he was growing up, his former neighbor Rhonda Roxburgh told The Miami Herald.
Children appeared to fear Cruz and would stand far apart from him at the bus stop near their homes, Roxburgh added. He also used to sit on the curb alone because “no one wanted to be around him.”
Cruz’s adoptive mother repeatedly called 911 to report her son’s behavior, often complaining that Nikolas or his brother Zachary “threw items” or were “out of control.”
But the most serious warning sign came in January, when a person close to Cruz phoned the FBI’s tip line to report details about Cruz’s “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,” the FBI said in a statement Friday.
In the same statement, the FBI admitted that it failed to follow protocols in handling that tip.
“Under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life,” the FBI said. ” The information then should have been forwarded to the FBI Miami field office, where appropriate investigative steps would have been taken.”