Monday 23 July 2018

'There was a monster living under our roof'

A video monitor shows school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, left, with public defender Melisa McNeille, making an appearance before Judge Kim Theresa Mollica in Broward County Court, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)
A video monitor shows school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, left, with public defender Melisa McNeille, making an appearance before Judge Kim Theresa Mollica in Broward County Court, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

The stunned couple who took in Nikolas Cruz after the death of his mother has spoken for the first time about the troubled teenager suspected of killing 17 students and staff at his former high school in Florida on Valentine's Day.

Kimberly and James Snead described the 19- year-old as immature, quirky and depressed - but pleasant and growing happier and giving no clues of the horror he was about inflict as he plotted the massacre.

"We had this monster living under our roof and we didn't know," Kimberly Snead said. "We didn't see this side of him."

"Everything everybody seems to know, we didn't know," James Snead said. "It's as simple as that."

The Sneads agreed to take in Cruz after their son had asked if his friend could move into their home after the death of his adoptive mother left him an orphan last November.

"I told him there'd be rules and he followed every rule to the T," said Mr Snead (48), an army veteran who was happy for the teenager to have guns at home as long as they remained in a safe.

On Wednesday morning, Cruz told them he didn't go to school on Valentine's Day.

Around 2.30pm, their son called his father sounding panic-stricken. He assured them he was safe but had heard shots fired on campus and had helped classmates flee by climbing a fence.

As he drove there, a SWAT commander called his mobile phone and asked where his "son" Nik was. He explained he wasn't his son and he had no idea where he was.

After putting the phone down, he put together the pieces and called the officer back and told him: "I need a police presence at my house. Go make sure my wife is Okay."

Police with guns drawn escorted the couple to a police station. As they waited for their son, Cruz was led in, handcuffed and surrounded by officers.

Kimberly tried to run at him and yelled: "Really, Nik? Really?"

"He said he was sorry. He apologised. He looked lost, absolutely lost," said Mr Snead.

Irish Independent

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