Broward County

‘Shooting people,’ ‘Rape on video’: Parkland shooter searched Internet for gory content

Law officers enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas after school shooting

Video released by the Broward Sheriff's Office shows law officers entering Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shortly after Nikolas Cruz opened fire, killing 17 people at the school in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2018.
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Video released by the Broward Sheriff's Office shows law officers entering Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shortly after Nikolas Cruz opened fire, killing 17 people at the school in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2018.

In the days and months before killing 17 people at a Parkland high school, Nikolas Cruz researched school shootings and other disturbing content on the Internet including a web page titled “Homicidal Thoughts and Urges.”

“Shooting people massacre” read one search on Nov 14, 2017, exactly three months before he attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Rape caught on video,” he typed in the next day. “Therapist for homicidal,” he searched just five days before the shooting.

Cruz’s search history, revealed Wednesday during a meeting of the state’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, offers a window into his twisted state of mind.

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“This is not unusual to find this kind of material on their phones,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the commission chairman, said of mass killers.

Cruz’s cell phone and Internet search history, obtained by investigators, show how he gradually zeroed in on a school as the target for his rage. He was a former student at Stoneman Douglas.

“My life is a mess [I don’t know] what to do anymore,” he said in one note he typed on his cellphone in January. He also lamented a girlfriend who had broken up with him. “Please be with me in the after life my dearest sweetheart,” he wrote on his phone.

Nikolas Cruz.png
This photo was found on Nikolas Cruz’s cellphone by investigators. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission Courtesy

At one point, he researched the Aurora movie theater massacre, taking a screenshot of a Wikipedia article. He looked at racist and Nazi memes. He studied the proper way to commit suicide by slicing one’s wrists. He etched a Swastika into a Mossberg shotgun he owned. He took photos and videos of himself holding guns or dead animals, including one video taken after he had gutted an iguana.

“I ripped out his organs,” Cruz said on the video. He owned at least eight firearms, all of which he bought legally.

On January 20, he wrote a note to himself on his phone: “Basketball court full of targets, still thinking of ways to kill people.”

In February, he began focusing on Stoneman Douglas. On Feb. 2, he took a screenshot of the school’s schedule.

He wrote what appeared to be suicide notes and researched school shootings in Kentucky, Minnesota and Finland. Days before attacking Stoneman Douglas, he looked up how long it would take police officers to respond to a school shooting.

The night before the shooting, he Googled the school’s name and watched music videos about school shootings, including one where a bullied child returns to his school and shoots two of his tormentors.

The next morning, Cruz began searching the Internet at 6:59 a.m. for KKK and Nazi themes, pornography and the phrase “school shooter.”

He also tried to call and text his ex-girlfriend, whom he had saved in his phone as “Warning Love of your Life.” She told him to leave her alone. Around 1 p.m., Cruz texted her saying “Hello” and “It’s very important.” She did not respond.

Even as he rode an Uber on the way to Stoneman Douglas with a rifle bag, Cruz continued to text the girl, as well as the son of the family he was living with following the death of his mother. His phone reflected 23 text messages in the 10 or so minutes before the shooting, according to investigators.

“Eat well, sleep well and behave well my love,” Cruz texted his ex between 2:08 p.m. and 2:10 p.m. on Feb. 14.

“You know I have a boyfriend, right?” the girl responded.

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“Doesn’t matter anymore,” Cruz said. “I love you.” The last two outgoing texts in his phone were sent to the friend he was living with. “Yo” and “Tell,” he wrote at 2:18 p.m, just before being dropped off near campus.

Three minutes later, he walked into Stoneman Douglas’ freshman building and opened fire.

Nicholas Nehamas: 305-376-3745, @NickNehamas
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