Broward County

What police found in the Parkland shooter's pockets

Officer who arrested suspected school shooter talks about apprehension

Coconut Creek police officer Michael Leonard talks to about the moments leading up to the arrest of suspected school shooter Nikolas Cruz.
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Coconut Creek police officer Michael Leonard talks to about the moments leading up to the arrest of suspected school shooter Nikolas Cruz.

In the frenzied moments as officers raced into a blood-spattered, smoke-filled school building that carried the acrid smell of gunfire, Coral Springs police mistakenly detained a student they thought might be responsible for the carnage.

When police finally tracked down the school shooter they identified as Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student, they found numerous items in his pants' pockets — innocuous things like his employee ID, a crushed pack of gum, loose change and a photo of a woman.

Those tidbits of news are among the information contained in supplemental reports filed by more than 100 investigators after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland four months ago and released Friday by Coral Springs police.

Most of the other information was familiar.

Previous reports released by the Coral Springs Police Department revealed that its officers were the first to enter Building 1200, where Cruz went on a rampage at about 2:21 p.m. for six minutes with a semiautomatic rifle on Valentine’s Day. He killed 13 students and four school administrators and injured 17 others, police said.

Among the details in the newly-released, 151-page document:

The wrong suspect

Coral Springs police initially detained the wrong student in the auditorium building because he was wearing clothing that matched the description of Cruz's maroon shirt and black pants. Cruz had not been found by that point.

"A white male, wearing a red shirt, and black pants, matching the description of the shooter, was huddled at the top of a spiral staircase leading to the theater. I ordered the student downstairs, and he was detained," Officer Brett Schroy wrote in his report.

As Schroy and several other officers headed north through a hallway perpendicular to the 1200 building, a Broward Sheriff's Office school resource officer, later identified as Scot Peterson, told them the shooter was last known to be inside the 1200 building.

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In Cruz's pockets

At 3:41 p.m. Feb. 14, about 80 minutes after the shooting began, Cruz was finally caught. Coconut Creek patrol officer Michael Leonard found him on the street outside the Pelican Pointe community near Coral Ridge Drive and Wyndham Lakes Boulevard South.

After officers had handcuffed Cruz, Coral Springs Police Officer Kyle Greene searched Cruz's pockets.

"I located a Dollar Tree ID card in the suspect's front right pocket," Greene wrote in his report on Feb. 20. Cruz was employed by a Dollar Tree store in Parkland at the time of the shootings.

In Cruz's back left pocket Greene found a folded dollar bill and Cruz's green tri-fold wallet, which contained miscellaneous papers, cash and a few coins.

"There was some loose change, a crushed pack of gum, a folded piece of paper, a Miami Dolphins key, and a photo of a woman in his front left pocket," Greene wrote in his report.

Who is the woman? The report doesn't identify her or speculate.

But before killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Cruz recorded three cellphone videos that discussed his plan to murder students and staff. In one of the videos he declared his love for a girl he identified only by her first name, Angie, saying he hoped to see her "in the afterlife."

Cellphone video released by the Broward State Attorney's Office shows confessed school shooter Nikolas Cruz saying today is the day my massacre shall begin.

The other supplemental reports cover previously reported material on how BSO deputies took cover behind their cars, that Peterson knew where the shooting had taken place, and that the school's security camera feed had a 20-minute delay and had officers searching for Cruz long after he was already gone.

PARKLAND SURVIVOR0024 JAI
Sgt. Jeff Heinrich, an officer with the Coral Springs Police Dept., was off duty and watering the infield at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 when he heard shots and started running toward the school. Jose A. Iglesias jiglesias@elnuevoherald.com

Off-duty heroics

In one dramatic recounting, Coral Springs Sgt. Jeff Heinrich writes of how he was off duty on the day of the shooting but was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas working on the baseball field when he heard the school's fire alarm go off around 2:23 p.m., followed by "five to six loud bangs" he believed to be fireworks.

But then he heard another round of five to six bangs and saw students running from the 1200 building, screaming.

"I dropped the hose I was using and began running towards the 1200 and 1300 building," he wrote.

He soon began encountering victims with wounds from Cruz's AR-15. Heinrich found a first aid kit in the baseball clubhouse and got busy.

Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.
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