Parkland School Shooter’s Home Was Ruled By Chaos, Violence, Court Hears

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Chaos reigned successful the location wherever Florida schoolhouse shooter Nikolas Cruz grew up, grounds successful his ongoing punishment proceedings has shown.

He and his half-brother Zachary tormented their adoptive, widowed mother, Lynda. By the clip Cruz reached mediate schoolhouse successful the aboriginal 2010s, the brace took their fists and shot bats to the walls, leaving gaping holes. They destroyed televisions and carved gashes successful furniture, witnesses said.

Zachary whitethorn person been 2 years younger, but helium was bigger and stronger and relentlessly picked connected his member — 1 societal idiosyncratic remembered Zachary climbing atop a antagonistic and stepping successful Nikolas’ cereal arsenic helium ate.

Lynda Cruz called sheriff’s deputies to the family’s 4,500-square-foot (420-square-meter) location astatine slightest 2 twelve times betwixt 2012 and 2016 to woody with 1 son, the different oregon both. Most calls were for fighting, destroying her property, disrespecting her oregon moving away.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is seen earlier this period  during the punishment  signifier   of his proceedings  astatine  the Broward County Courthouse successful  Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is seen earlier this period during the punishment signifier of his proceedings astatine the Broward County Courthouse successful Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Pool via Getty Images

“Nikolas was precise easy acceptable disconnected and I deliberation Zachary derived immoderate pleasance from pushing Nikolas’ buttons,” testified Frederick Kravitz, 1 of Cruz’s puerility psychologists. In turn, “they were precise bully astatine pushing (their mother’s) buttons.”

Nikolas Cruz, 23, pleaded blameworthy successful October to murdering 17 students and unit members astatine Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School connected Feb. 14, 2018. His proceedings is lone to determine whether helium is sentenced to decease oregon beingness without parole. The proceedings resumes Monday aft a week off.

In an effort to antagonistic that, adjunct nationalist defender Melisa McNeill and her squad person made Cruz’s past their case’s centerpiece, hoping astatine slightest 1 juror volition ballot for life. A decease verdict indispensable beryllium unanimous.

An undated photograph   shows the Cruz family. Cruz's adoptive parent  called sheriff's deputies to her family's location  astatine  slightest  a twelve  times aft  her husband's decease  portion    struggling to power  her 2  sons, according to witnesses.
An undated photograph shows the Cruz family. Cruz's adoptive parent called sheriff's deputies to her family's location astatine slightest a twelve times aft her husband's decease portion struggling to power her 2 sons, according to witnesses.

Sun Sentinel via Getty Images

The defence wants to amusement that from Cruz’s birth to a hard-drinking, crack-smoking Fort Lauderdale prostitute, helium ne'er afloat received needed assistance adjacent arsenic helium grew progressively retired of control.

And obscurity was that much evident than successful the location Roger and Lynda Cruz built successful Parkland, an upscale Fort Lauderdale suburb. They adopted Nikolas astatine commencement successful 1998 and, successful 2000, Zachary, who had a antithetic commencement father.

Lynda Cruz, who turned 50 soon aft adopting Nikolas, was a stay-at-home mom. Roger Cruz, past 61, owned a palmy selling business.

Lynda Cruz “had wanted a child, ever wanted a child. So erstwhile she got Nikolas, she felt similar her household was complete,” person Trish Davaney-Westerlind testified. “He was a cute small baby. She would spell and get him each these sailor outfits. She was conscionable the happiest I ever saw.”

But by preschool, Cruz showed utmost behavior. Neighbors and teachers testified helium deed and spot different children and didn’t socialize. He was anxious, fell erstwhile helium ran and couldn’t usage utensils. Nikolas started seeing psychiatrists and psychologists astatine property 3 and didn’t afloat speech oregon go potty trained until 4.

At 5, conscionable arsenic Cruz entered kindergarten, he witnessed his begetter endure a fatal bosom onslaught successful the family’s den. That near Lynda Cruz unsocial successful her mid-50s with 2 sons who would person challenged a overmuch younger couple.

Unemployed, she became paranoid astir spending, keeping her aerial conditioners’ thermostats successful the 80s (25 to 30 Celsius) and unplugging unused appliances. One person said her monthly electrical measure was $80, a fraction of what the proprietor of a ample South Florida location typically pays.

She padlocked the refrigerator truthful her sons couldn’t devour without support and kept it truthful poorly stocked neighbors gave her groceries.

Friends gave conflicting grounds implicit whether Lynda Cruz truly was financially strapped oregon had wealthiness she didn’t privation to spend.

In either case, she had expenses different parents didn’t. Cruz’s intelligence wellness treatments weren’t afloat covered by insurance. He loved online, often convulsive video games, but hated losing ― that’s what caused him to destruct TVs and harm walls. She sometimes locked his video crippled counsel successful her car arsenic punishment — and Cruz astatine slightest erstwhile broke a model to get it back.

“She was a small acrophobic of him,” neighbour Paul Gold testified.

Despite Cruz’s tantrums, Lynda Cruz told teachers and counselors helium was gentle and loving, a mama’s boy. Friends testified that wasn’t wholly a facade — Cruz and his parent did person a strong, often affectionate attachment and she favored him implicit his brother.

Still, Zachary remained fashionable successful the vicinity portion Cruz was the outcast — and not conscionable with children.

Steven Schusler testified that soon aft moving nearby, his landlord called implicit the Cruz boys and pointed astatine Nikolas, past astir 10.

“He’s the weird one, aren’t you Nicky?” Schusler recalled the pistillate saying. Cruz ”curled up” and “looked similar a snail erstwhile you enactment brackish connected one.”

But Cruz’s behaviour was often unusual and sometimes violent. When helium was 9, a genitor called constabulary aft helium deed her kid successful the caput with a rock. When his canine died aft eating a poisonous toad, he went connected a sidesplitting spree against the amphibians. At mediate school, his outbursts disrupted classes and helium plastered his homework with racist slurs, swastikas, obscenities and instrumentality figures having enactment oregon shooting each other.

Lynda Cruz became truthful overwhelmed successful Cruz’s aboriginal teens, a societal services bureau was assigned to help. That’s what brought lawsuit manager Tiffany Forrest to the home. She said Lynda Cruz complained Nikolas wouldn’t bathe, truthful Forrest tried to explicate to him the value of hygiene. Cruz stood up, walked extracurricular and jumped clothed into the pool. He past climbed out.

“I showered,” helium told Forrest.

In the coming weeks, Cruz’s attorneys are expected to contiguous grounds astir his transportation to a schoolhouse for students with affectional and behavioral problems, his clip astatine Stoneman Douglas and telephone his member to the stand. Zachary present lives successful Virginia with 2 benefactors.

Their parent died little than 4 months earlier the shooting.

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AP writer Freida Frisaro successful Fort Lauderdale contributed to this report.

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