Teen gunman Nikolas Cruz was charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder — one for each of the people he’s accused of fatally shooting at his former high school.
Cruz, 19, was arrested in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where police said he opened fire with an AR-15, which he bought legally.
A judge ordered him to be held without bond during his court appearance Thursday.
The troubled Cruz was having a rough time after the loss of his adoptive parents. His father, Roger Cruz, died from a heart attack a couple of years ago and his mother, Lynda Cruz, died from the flu in November, family members said.
Barbara Kumbatovic, Lynda’s sister-in-law, told the Washington Post that the mother was very close to Cruz and his half-brother.
“She put a lot of time and effort into those boys, trying to give them a good life and upbringing,” she told the Post. “Lynda dealt with it like most parents did. She was probably too good to him.”
His mother’s death might have caused him to go on a rampage, Kumbatovic added.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with his upbringing,” she told the newspaper. “It could have been the loss of his mom. I don’t know.”
Since Lynda Cruz’s death, Cruz had been living in different homes. At one point, he was living with an ex-Stoneman Douglas High School classmate, but it didn’t work out, Jim Lewis, a lawyer representing Cruz’s family, told the Post.
Students described Cruz as a gun enthusiast. Cruz is believed to have taken an Uber to the school just before classes ended, then entered the building and soon started shooting, school Superintendent Robert Nuncie told “CBS This Morning.”
Uber confirmed he took one of the service’s cars, and said it’s working with law enforcement. The company declined to comment further.
What drove Cruz to bring the firearm to the school — where he’d previously been expelled — hasn’t been disclosed.
He’d been flagged to the FBI by a Mississippi bail bondsman who noticed Cruz had commented “I’m going to be a professional school shooter” in a YouTube post.