The couple who welcomed Nikolas Cruz into their home after his adoptive mother died in November described a very different picture of the teen accused of killing 17 people at a Florida high school last Wednesday than the one that has been painted by others who have known Cruz.
“[He was] nothing like they portray on television or in the media,” Kimberly Snead said during an interview on “Good Morning America” on Monday.
“Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know,” James Snead, a U.S. Army veteran, added.
James Snead, 48, said they had “rules” in their home and that Cruz followed every one of them to a “T.”
They said Cruz, 19, was a friend of their son whom they’d met a few times before they invited him to live with them. The Sneads’ son attends Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Cruz’s mother died on Nov. 1. She was 68. Cruz’s father died of a heart attack in 2005.
“He was very polite,” James Snead said. ” He seemed normal.”
The couple helped Cruz enroll in a school so he could get his GED. They also helped him get a job at a local dollar store.
Did anything unusual happen the day of the massacre?
Kimberly Snead, 49, said the only thing that was different that fateful morning was that “he didn’t go to school.”
But sometimes that happens, she added.
“He said he didn’t go to school on Valentine’s Day,” James Snead said.
Cruz messaged the couple’s son before the shooting. He said he had something to tell him.
The son pressed for more information. Cruz responded with “nothing bad, bro” and told him he was going to the movies.
At about 2:18 p.m., just before the shooting started, the Sneads’ son received one last text from Cruz.
“Yo,” Cruz wrote.
How do they find out about the shooting?
The SWAT team called James Snead and asked him about his “son Nikolas.” He told the officer that Nikolas wasn’t his son and he didn’t know where he was.
James Snead then reached out to his son who was fleeing the scene. At about that time, a description of the shooter emerged, and James Snead and his son “put two and two together” and figured out “what was happening.”
Kimberly Snead, a nurse, was home sleeping at the time.
“At that point, I was panic-stricken for her safety, so I called the SWAT officer back to get the police to go back to my home to check on her [Kimberly Snead],” James Snead said.
Has the couple spoken to Cruz since the shooting?
When the police brought Cruz to the police station for booking, the couple was there. Kimberly Snead said she yelled at him but was trying to reserve herself.
Cruz mumbled something back to her that she couldn’t understand.
He said “he was sorry.”
How are the Sneads and their son doing?
The couple is hurting for the families who lost loved ones, they said.
James Sneed said they are going through a “roller coaster of emotions.”
“It’s still tough,” he said. “We’re still hurting, still grieving.”
Kimberly Snead said she is “absolutely heartbroken” and “devastated.”
“I still can’t process it because this isn’t the person we knew,” she added. “Not at all.”
“He’s angry,” James Snead said of their son. “He’s betrayed. He’s upset.”
What does their lawyer say?
The Sneads are fully cooperating with the FBI, the couple’s lawyer, Jim Lewis, explained.
“The couple was trying to do the right thing,” Lewis said. “These are good people who were trying to do the right thing.”
Lewis said the family was “completely unaware” of Cruz killing small animals and only knew of one Instagram account. Cruz allegedly had multiple social media accounts.
The Sneads knew Cruz had guns, which they kept locked in a gun safe. James Snead thought he had the only key and was unaware that Cruz had one.
Cruz pleaded guilty in court last week and is being held without bond.