“He wore a gas mask and smoke grenades. He set off the fire alarms so the kids would come out in the hallways. And thus, he had the opportunity with the crowded hallways to start picking off people.” @SenBillNelson on the Florida school shooting suspect. #Hardball pic.twitter.com/wtL0rmV9Wp
— Hardball (@hardball) February 15, 2018
In the wake of Wednesday’s Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed at least 17 people, the U.S. is struggling for answers and stuck on repeat. Authorities are now releasing more information about alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz to paint more of a picture of what went on inside the school and what would his motive may have been. Cruz, as a former student of the school, was obviously familiar with the school’s layout, and in the above MSNBC Hardball clip, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) reveals what he learned about Cruz’s actions after being briefed by federal authorities.
Nelson relays how Cruz wore a gas mask while using smoke grenades. He likely tripped some alarms with the grenades but also manually pulled them to draw students out of classrooms and into hallways, where they were easy targets for his AR-15 (which he legally purchased after passing a background check). As Nelson said, this gave Cruz “the opportunity with the crowded hallways to start picking off people.” Indeed, as Marco Rubio (R-FL) stated on Twitter, he gathered from the same briefing that the “attack was designed & executed to maximize loss of life.”
The New York Times has gathered more facts about the alleged shooter, who has now been charged with 17 counts of murder, and his background. 19-year-old Cruz had been expelled (after being suspended multiple times) from Stoneman Douglas High School, according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. He’s currently enrolled in a different high school in the same county, and people who knew him have described him as “troubled” and obsessed with guns. He also reportedly “bragg[ed] about killing animals” and was obsessed with a female student “to the point of stalking her.”
Even more chilling — he reportedly made many social media threats, including the following: “I whana shoot people with my AR-15” [sic] and “I wanna die Fighting killing s**t ton of people.” The Boston Globe says that he may have been abusive to his ex-girlfriend and was expelled from school over a related fight. Meanwhile, the NY Times reports that many students were afraid of Cruz, and Miami’s ABC affliiate, WFOR, reveals that some students “threw jokes” about how Cruz might one day shoot his fellow students:
The suspect, a former student, was the subject of jokes from other kids, according to a student at the school. A student told WFOR-TV that other students “knew it was going to be him.”
“A lot of people were saying it was going to be him. A lot of kids threw jokes around saying that he was going to be the one to shoot up the school,” the student said. “It turns out that everyone predicted it. That’s crazy.”
Cruz remains in custody, of course, while the massacre has set off yet another political firestorm. Sen. Chris Murphy, who has rallied for gun control since the Sandy Hook massacre, is holding Congress responsible, which may or may not bring results. A CNN commentator broke down on air, Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr delivered a searing indictment of the government’s inaction on such matters, and Geraldo Rivera delivered a surprising argument for gun control on Fox News.
Florida Governor Rick Scott — who famously followed up the Orlando nightclub shooting by declaring, “The Second Amendment didn’t kill anybody” — is now dealing with another mass shooting in his state. “What business does a 19-year-old have in having an AR-15?” Scott asked CBS News. “We’re finding all the facts. There’s a thorough investigation going on. The sheriff’s department will release exactly what happened.” Watch below.