The man suspected of opening fire inside a Florida high school on Wednesday, killing at least 17 people, was a former student who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons, the authorities said.
Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County, Florida, said that the man, Nikolas Cruz, 19, previously attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland but was expelled after getting into trouble.
A student at the school said he remembered Cruz as a “troubled kid” who enjoyed showing off his firearms.
“He always had guns on him,” the student, who did not give his name, told WFOR-TV. “The crazy stuff that he did was not right for school, and he got kicked out of school multiple times for that kind of stuff.”
Jim Gard, a math teacher at Douglas High School, said in an interview that Cruz was a student in his class during the first semester of the 2016-17 school year. In the class, he was quiet and not disruptive, Gard said.
But he recalled that school administrators became concerned last year about Cruz’s behavior and alerted the faculty. “We received emails about him from the administration,” Gard said in an interview, adding that he did not recall the specific issues.
After the shooting on Wednesday, Gard said that several students told him that Cruz was taken with a girl at Douglas High School “to the point of stalking her.”
In the interview with the Miami news station, the student said Cruz was a junior at Douglas High School when he was expelled last year. He said that students would joke that if anyone were to open fire inside the school, it would be Cruz. Because of that, students feared him and mostly stayed away from him, the student said.
“A lot of people were saying that it would be him,” the student told WFOR-TV. “They would say he would be the one to shoot up the school. Everyone predicted it.”
Israel said that detectives were learning more about Cruz through his social media pages, which he described as “very, very concerning.” Screen shots of an Instagram page said to belong to Cruz show many photos of a man holding handguns and other firearms.