Here are five things to know about Nikolas Jacob Cruz, the suspect in Wednesday’s murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the third largest school shooting in United States history.
▪ Nikolas Cruz was born Sept. 24, 1998. He and his brother Zachary were adopted as infants by Lynda Cruz and Roger Cruz of Parkland. Roger Cruz died in 2004, a month before Nikolas’ 6th birthday. Lynda Cruz died Nov. 1, 2017.
▪ Since his mother’s death, Cruz has been living at the home of a former Douglas High classmate. He had his own room and worked at a Dollar Tree while going to school to finish his high school diploma.
▪ As a freshman, Cruz was part of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) and marksmen groups. One of the initial descriptions of him on the police scanner said he wore a JROTC shirt. Another JROTC member believes Cruz wore his JROTC polo shirt Wednesday to blend into the students after the shooting because he knew the group wore them on Wednesdays.
▪ He legally bought an AR-15, the assault rifle used Wednesday, at a Broward County gun shop in February 2017. Though neighbors said police visited the Cruz home often, he’d never been arrested. With no criminal record, Cruz cleared an instant background check via the FBI criminal database.
▪ He was diagnosed with autism and attention deficit disorder. Cruz had discipline problems in middle school and high school.