Months prior to the Florida shooting that left 17 dead, Nikolas Cruz’s original host family had warned law enforcement that Cruz had “used a gun against people before” and “put the gun to others’ heads in the past,” according to CNN.
The family took Cruz in immediately after his mother’s death in November, CNN reported, and before he moved in with the Snead family.
It’s one more indicator of how law enforcement had warning signs well before Cruz killed 17 students and teachers on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
CNN says it obtained records from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office that show deputies’ communication with Cruz in the former home. He lived there before moving in with the Sneads.
Cruz’s mother died due to pneumonia in November. She was 68. She was a widow raising her two adopted teenage boys by herself in Broward County, CNN reported. No other family was available to help, so Rocxanne Deschamps, a former neighbor, took in Nikolas and his younger brother, Zachary.
After the boys moved into her Palm Beach County mobile home, Cruz allegedly had repeated “explosive, violent outbursts,” just as he did while at his mother’s home, CNN reported. He also had firearms.
One day after Thanksgiving, Cruz was working his job at a Dollar Tree store. Deschamps’ son, Rock, 22, called 911 and reported that Cruz allegedly hid a gun in the backyard. The information came from dispatcher’s notes, CNN said.
Rock Deschamps told law enforcement “there were no weapons allowed in the household,” according to the report.
It is not clear if deputies searched the property, and the report was classified as “domestic unfounded.” That means there was no proof to back up the claim.
Why were deputies called back?
Four days later, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office was again called to the home. Rock Deschamps reported that Cruz lashed out against the family, according to the Palm Beach deputy’s report and dispatcher notes, obtained by CNN.
A deputy found Cruz at a local park. Cruz allegedly said he was distraught because he misplaced a photo of his recently deceased mother and began punching the wall, according to the report.
Law enforcement was called out to his mother’s home several times for similar incidents, CNN reported.
When Rock Deschamps interrupted Cruz, the two began fighting, the report states. After Cruz left the home, Rocxanne Deschamps called 911.
According to the reports, she told the dispatcher Cruz indicated he was “going to get his gun and come back.” She also said Cruz had “bought a gun from Dick’s last week and is now going to pick it up.”
Also, Rocxanne Deschamps told the dispatcher that Cruz “bought tons of ammo” and “has used a gun against ppl before,” the notes stated.
“He has put the gun to others’ heads in the past,” she added.
The Palm Beach sheriff’s deputy who responded to the incident noted that both men “hugged and reconcile(d) their differences.” Cruz “said he was sorry for losing his temper,” according to the report.
Rock Deschamps signed a form saying he refused to prosecute Cruz because Cruz was emotionally distraught over this mother’s recent death.
Rocxanne Deschamps’ ex-fiancé Paul Gold told CNN that he drove Cruz to his mother’s funeral. The only people in attendance were the two sons, Gold, and Rocxanne Deschamps.
“The boy was stoic. Not a tear. Not an emotion. I asked him if he was upset. He said: ‘I’m upset because nobody came, and nobody cares about my mother,'” Gold told CNN. “I told him that his mother was loved by many, many people and they just couldn’t make it, timing and whatnot. It was a complete lie. But I felt horrible. Here’s this poor kid, and his mother dies, and not a soul shows up.”
Cruz left Rocxanne Deschamps’ home for good a short time later, according to Gold. Cruz returned to Broward County to live with a friend, and stayed at the Sneads’ home. He took his guns with him, the Sneads said.