By now, Nikolas Cruz is notorious as the 19-year-old who opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14th. In the wake of the shooting, many of Cruz’s former classmates described him as “unstable.” But in a February 17th interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Kimberly and James Snead, who let Cruz live with them following his mother’s death, said they were unaware that Cruz was capable of this kind of violence.
The Sneads told the paper that when their son asked them to let Cruz stay with the family, they agreed. They knew that Cruz owned an AR-15 but made him lock it in a safe, along with his other guns and knives. James reportedly believed he had the only key to the safe and made Cruz ask for permission to take any weapons out. The couple said that, for the three months he lived with them, Cruz obeyed all of the rules in their house.
Cruz’s adoptive mother died from pneumonia in November. The Sneads told the Sun Sentinel that he seemed depressed about his mother’s death but that they saw no indications that he would become violent.
In an interview on Good Morning America on February 20th, James said that their son, who had been friends with Cruz, felt “betrayed.” The morning of the shooting, Cruz had texted their son asking what classroom he was in. Cruz later sent a message saying he had something to tell the Sneads’ son but ultimately brushed it off.
The Sneads mentioned that they didn’t know about Cruz’s Instagram account that reportedly displayed photos of weapons and dead animals. The couple said that the only unusual thing they noticed the morning of the shooting was that Cruz refused to go to his adult education program, saying, “I don’t go to school on Valentine’s Day.” They added that they were “devastated” by the shooting and extended their condolences to the victims’ families.
Cruz has been arrested and charged with 17 counts of murder.
The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is a national tragedy. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by this senseless act of violence, including the Snead family.