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Nikolas Cruz Booked On 17 Counts Of Premeditated Murder In Fla. Shooting


The suspect in yesterday's school shooting in Florida is named Nikolas Cruz. He's 19, a former student. And this recording of a police scanner captured the sound as he moved through the school.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: He went from the third floor to the second floor - third to the second floor. He may have a gas mask on now.

INSKEEP: And as he moved around, people ducked for cover. President Trump commented on the shooting on Twitter this morning, quote, "so many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed."

We're going now to South Florida. WLRN reporter Tim Padgett has been covering this story. Mr. Padgett, good morning.

TIM PADGETT, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: What was Nikolas Cruz's connection to this school?

PADGETT: Well, he had been a student there until last year, when he was expelled for what the Broward County sheriff told us yesterday were disciplinary reasons. Some of the students have told reporters that one of the big reasons was that he had a penchant for bringing knives - big knives to school. And that jives with what we've seen on his social media footprint. He was obsessed with guns and knives and posted quite a few very scary pictures of himself with them.

INSKEEP: What do you mean by scary pictures?

PADGETT: He would post pictures of himself with military caps and bandanas covering his face. And he would put a lot of sort of bravado language about wanting to use these weapons. And it was - as the Broward County sheriff said yesterday, this was very disturbing stuff.

INSKEEP: How specific did he get in talking about how he wanted to use the weapons?

PADGETT: Well, apparently back in September on a YouTube chat being conducted by a gentleman in Mississippi, Nikolas Cruz posted on that YouTube chat the comment, quote, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter." Now that, of course, set off alarm bells there in Mississippi. And according to this gentleman, he contacted the FBI who he claims then visited him and took the information from the screenshot that this gentleman took of that YouTube chat comment. The FBI is not commenting on this, but there are signs out there that officials may have been aware that he was a very emotionally disturbed and dangerous person.

INSKEEP: I suppose that's going to raise the question of whether he should have been stopped in advance and also questions of whether someone can be stopped in advance in a free society.

PADGETT: Well, this was no surprise to people - parents and students and teachers at the school. As we said, he had been expelled for disciplinary reasons last year. But he was also known as a very emotional disturbed person with a lot of behavioral problems. His adoptive parents had both passed away. His father passed away a few years ago. His adoptive mother just passed away late last year. He was living with some friends of the family. But he was known throughout his neighborhood, throughout the community there as a very emotionally disturbed young man.

INSKEEP: And in just a few seconds, what was he like as he was captured?

PADGETT: He was apparently rather relatively calm considering, you know, the awful atrocity he had just committed. And what we have heard is that he did show a little bit of, you know, deranged behavior, sort of talking to himself, et cetera.

INSKEEP: OK. Mr. Padgett, thanks very much.

PADGETT: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Tim Padgett of WLRN has some details on the suspect in a school shooting that left 17 people dead in South Florida yesterday. We'll bring you more as we learn it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.