In less than 10 minutes, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz committed the second largest school shooting in American history. 17 students and faculty members were murdered in a shooting at Marjory Douglas High School last week, marking the eighth school shooting of 2018. However, many student survivors are determined to make this massacre different. In the words of senior Emma Gonzalez: “We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America … we are going to be the last mass shooting.” Gonzalez spoke to a crowd of hundred of students, teachers, parents and supporters outside the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida just three days after the Feb. 14 shooting. Many of the student survivors of the mass shooting are calling upon students from around the country to come together and march for gun control. Calling out politicians and the National Rifle Association (NRA), the student survivors are organizing a march for gun control in Washington and any other city supporters are able to gather on March 24.
President Trump has been quick to call out the failure of the FBI to catch the many signals from Cruz and demand smental health reform but he has remained silent about the question of gun control. Gonzalez, a growing spokesperson for the movements, pushed back against Trump’s remarks during her speech at the federal courthouse by saying, “This isn’t just a mental health issue. He wouldn’t have hurt that many students with a knife.”
The FBI has released a statement acknowledging its failure to follow procedure surrounding a tip called in on Jan. 5, 2018, from someone close to Cruz over concern for “his gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts” as well as a suggestion that he may attempt a school shooting. An investigation is being launched to find out more.
Although the tip, which has been linked to a YouTube comment (supposedly from Cruz) that said “I’m going to be a professional school shooter” seems to be an overtly bold warning sign, the family he was living with has shared that they didn’t see any warning sign in the “polite” boy they had taken in. Both of Cruz’s adopted parents passed away in the past year, his mother in November, leaving him in the care of family friends.
However the Snead family took him in recently when their son asked if Cruz could stay with them for a while. Just two weeks before the shooting, James Snead, the father of the family, reported, “He [Cruz]told me this is the best he’s ever felt in his life.” Snead, also a gun owner, required that Cruz buy a gun safe and give him the keys. He had to ask permission to open the safe, but Cruz must have made a key for himself as well.
According to Gordon Weekes, the Broward County chief assistant public defender, Cruz faces 17 counts of premeditated murder, is being held without bond and has been placed on suicide watch at the Broward County jail.