Nikolas Cruz, the man accused of killing at least 17 people in a Florida high school, admitted to being the gunman in the deadly rampage, his arrest affidavit said.
Cruz, 19, confessed to using an AR-15 rifle to shoot “students that he saw in the hallways” at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School “and on school grounds,” the document said. He also reportedly told authorities that he brought “additional loaded magazines” that he stashed in a backpack.
After arriving at the school in an Uber car on Wednesday, Cruz then entered the location, officials said. He pulled his weapon from a black, soft case and began firing bullets into several classrooms throughout the building, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said during a Thursday news conference.
Nikolas Cruz was booked into Broward County Jail on 17 counts of premeditated murder. On the right is his yearbook picture. (Broward County Sheriff’s Office/Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School)
Authorities received several 911 calls shortly before 2:30 p.m. reporting a shooting at the Parkland, Florida high school, the affidavit said, and as officers responded to the scene, a description of the shooter was blasted across police radios.
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A witness who spoke to authorities said he recognized the “former troubled student” and alerted a co-worker “that Cruz was walking purposefully” towards one of the buildings, the affidavit said. Moments later, shots rang out and a “code red” was initiated.
In the midst of the chaos, Cruz confessed to ditching the weapons and ammunition in an attempt to “blend into the crowd,” the affidavit said. He fled the scene with others “fearing for their lives,” the sheriff said, and “was able to elude arriving officers,” according to the affidavit.
“Once the crime scene was secured the discarded AR15 rifle and vest with magazines was found in areas consistent with Cruz’s version of events,” authorities said in the document.
Cruz was apprehended by a Coconut Springs officer before 4 p.m. in Coral Springs and was taken into custody “without incident,” the sheriff said. Officials traced the rifle back to Cruz, who bought it legally in 2017, ATF Special Agent in Charge Peter Forcelli said Thursday.
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(Cruz was taken into custody in Coral Springs, Florida.)
The 19-year-old was booked into Broward County Jail on Thursday. He was later ordered held without bond and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
“The victim’s deaths were caused by the criminal act of Nikolas Cruz and the killings done with a premeditated design,” the affidavit said.
After the hearing, attorney Melisa McNeill described her client as fully aware of what was going on but said he was also a “broken human being.” She added that Cruz was sad and remorseful for his actions and she was fully aware of the shooting’s impact on the community.
A video monitor shows school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, left, with his public defender Melisa McNeill making an appearance before Judge Kim Theresa Mollica in Broward County Court on Thursday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)
Jordan Jereb, the leader of the Republic of Florida, a white nationalist militia, previously told The Associated Press that Cruz was a group member and participated in paramilitary drills in Tallahassee. But Leon County Sheriff spokesman Lt. Grady Jordan told the outlet that his office had “very solid” information on the group and “there’s no known ties” between Cruz and the group “that we have that we can connect.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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