Broward County

Gun shop owners distraught over selling rifle to ‘maniac’ who killed 17 at school

At Sunrise Tactical Supply, a four-year-old gun shop in an innocuous shopping center in Coral Springs, suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz purchased an AR-15 in February 2017. It was the same firearm, authorities said, that was used in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday.

Cruz is charged with 17 counts of murder.

Attorney Douglas Rudman, who represents shop owners Michael and Lisa Morrison, told reporters in front of the store Thursday evening that Cruz purchased the semi-automatic rifle off the rack, in a box, and did not purchase any ammunition with it other than the magazine that came with the gun. Cruz did not purchase accessories or make any modifications to the AR-15.

“It is for that reason that no red flags were raised,” said Rudman, who is an attorney with Boca Raton-based Rudman Law Group. “It seems like Mr. Cruz made a deliberate attempt to not draw suspicion by not buying too many things from one place.”

Federal law enforcement confirmed Thursday that the rifle was procured legally.

Stuart Kaplan, an attorney representing the corporate entity, Sunrise Tactical Supply, said shop owners ensured that Cruz filled out a firearms transactions record form, called an ATF Form 4473, that is issued by the Department of Justice. He included a copy of his driver’s license, his name, address, date of birth, sex, height, weight, and answered “no” to questions about whether he had been adjudicated for mental illness or whether he had been institutionalized for mental health illness, Kaplan said.

“What I understand is that was answered appropriately,” said Kaplan, who is a lawyer with Palm Beach Gardens-based Kaplan and Parker. “I think the bigger question is: We know that he suffered from some sort of mental health illness. I guess we need to decide or find out whether or not he was being treated ...and I think that loophole is whether or not a mental health professional who is treating an individual should have some sort of reporting requirement or is there some sort of database that would collect this information so that in an event that a particular person would go to purchase a weapon, we could at least screen them?”

The shop, whose displays had been stripped of any rifles or other guns Thursday evening, will remain closed indefinitely.

Its owners, who live in Coral Springs, are distraught, Rudman said.

“The tremendous sense of responsibility in this situation and just horribleness that they feel that one of their weapons fell into the hands of this maniac,” Rudman said. “They are scared — not just for their safety — but more importantly about how the reaction is going to be for the rest of the community as they try to reenter it.”

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