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Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz was an avid video gamer who frequently played as much as 15 hours or more a day, his neighbors and others told investigators.
Documents released by prosecutors Friday show authorities were deeply interested in Cruz’s considerable online activities. They quickly discovered group chats in which it became clear Cruz had talked about murder beforehand.
“I didnt know hed do it fr,” a friend wrote on a group chat on his Instagram page, a couple hours after Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, the school he’d once attended.
That meant: “I didn’t know he’d do it for real.”
Cruz told classmates, friends, family and acquaintances of his desire to kill. Some reported it, others didn’t take him seriously and said nothing.
He was a special education student from his earliest years and had trouble with academics, but online, he was proficient.
A detective portrayed him in one search warrant as having an “extensive network over the internet.” He had numerous social media accounts as well as financial accounts, some in his dead mother’s name. Cruz may have used his Internet skills to acquire firearms and ammunition, one search warrant says. He also had researched other mass shootings online, and posted deadly threats. He even sent himself text messages about killing people.
“These various accounts have proven to hold evidence of Cruz’s obsession with guns and also his intentions to harm others with gun violence,” a detective wrote in a search warrant application for Cruz’s Google email accounts.
In the aftermath of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, detectives used search warrants to seize laptops, cell phones and an iPad belonging to Cruz. They subpoenaed Instagram and Snapchat, Uber, Google and YouTube, to delve into his emails, his postings and conversations, looking for evidence that he planned the school shooting ahead of time. Cruz had dropped crumbs all across the world wide web.
Executing a search warrant at the home where Cruz was living, police took iPhones, an iPod, computer hard drives, an Amazon Echo Dot voice-controlled “smart” speaker, a Samsung digital camera, USB thumb drives, desktop and laptop computer, and XBox game consoles.
Cruz’s habitual video gaming and online infatuation are hinted at throughout police and school records from his childhood. His love for his XBox video game console made it a tool for discipline in the household. His mother, Lynda, took the Xbox away as a form of punishment, records say.
A 2013 police report says his mother called Broward Sheriff’s Office because Cruz, who was 14 at the time, “was increasingly irate and throwing objects across the room after losing his video game privileges.”
A troubled teen who lacked in social skills, Cruz took to the online world.
“Nikolas spends most of his time alone playing his Xbox,” a 2014 psychiatric report about Cruz reads. “He has no friends in the neighborhood and feels rejected by his peers in school.”
A male student who knew Cruz from JROTC told police that Cruz “constantly changed Instagram profiles.”
In one, he held a black semi-automatic firearm with an orange tip, with his face partially covered. In another, Cruz was armed with knives and wore a bandanna around his mouth.
Cruz’s brother, who identified him in surveillance video as the shooter, told authorities Nikolas also used the Instagram account nikolascruzmakarov, showing numerous pictures of assault rifles and ammunition. On that account, he discussed buying and firing assault rifles. The user name was a gun reference: a Makarov is a Russian semi-automatic pistol.
Financial records show he subscribed to gun-related magazines and visited “Pro Fourth Amendment” websites, the records state. The government, under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, cannot conduct “unreasonable” searches of people or their homes without valid cause.
He also was active on YouTube. Authorities found a threatening exchange with another YouTube user “Michelle Wood,” dated January 13, 2018, in which he commented about shooting someone.
“Please are you one of those types of people that think you’re the only one that has a gun,” Wood replied, to which Cruz reportedly said: “Its 2018 trust me you’re not hard to find. Keep talking.”
Under the YouTube account “True Crime Enthusiast” — police found several videos one specifically titled “Nikolas showing off a bullet.”
Cruz had at least nine gmail addresses including crazynikolas6979 and antifakiller69, search warrants show.
On a cell phone Cruz left at the crime scene, authorities found a request for an Uber driver to take him to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Feb. 14.
Detectives subpoenaed Cruz’s Uber account activity to find every trip he took starting Nov. 1, the day his mother died.
On Feb. 14, Uber driver Laura Zecchini picked up Cruz from the Parkland home where he lived and dropped him off at Stoneman Douglas. He was carrying a rifle case, but the driver described it as a guitar case.
He told her he was going to the school for a music class. The ride cost $4.53.
I'm still wanting to see the other
videos that were supposed to be on his cell. Unless they have back tracked on that now and are only going to release those few short clips.