More signs of violent thoughts, gun fascination in school shooting suspect's past

    This photo posted on the Instagram account of Nikolas Cruz shows weapons lying on a bed. Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, the day after opening fire with a semi-automatic weapon in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (Instagram via AP)

    Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz expressed racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic views in private Instagram chats over the last six months and at one point told others, “I think I am going to kill people,” according to CNN.

    In chat transcripts obtained by CNN, Cruz shared messages, memes, and videos with other members that displayed hatred for Jews, African Americans, and immigrants and frequently discussed his “arsenal” of guns and body armor.

    Police say Cruz has confessed to killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday.

    After he made the comment that he was thinking about killing people, another member of the chat group told him not to say that and he insisted he was just playing.

    In other messages, Cruz described white women in interracial relationships as traitors and talked about killing small animals.

    "He seemed nice but also had some mental issues," one member of the group told CNN. "All (I know) is that he likes guns and really hates liberals."

    The chat messages are just one of several signs of violent and disturbing behavior that have emerged in the days since the shooting.

    According to the Miami Herald, Florida's Department of Children and Families investigated after Cruz posted a video of himself cutting his arms on Snapchat in 2016.

    "Mr. Cruz was on Snapchat cutting both of his arms," the Florida DCF abuse hotline was told in August 2016. "Mr. Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms. Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun."

    The investigation was completed three months later after DCF concluded he was not being mistreated by his mother and was receiving adequate mental care.

    The FBI revealed Friday that it received a tip from someone close to Cruz in January that he was armed, erratic, and might conduct a school shooting. Protocols were not followed and the tip was never investigated.

    Another tip was submitted to the FBI in September when a user named “Nikolas Cruz” commented beneath a YouTube video that he wanted to be “a professional school shooter.” Investigators were unable to determine who posted it.

    The leader of a Florida white nationalist group told the Associated Press and others on Thursday that Cruz had been a member, but he has since backed away from that claim and the AP reported Friday he appears to have been lying. Authorities have not confirmed a connection between Cruz and any white nationalist or supremacist organizations.

    “We’ve heard that. We’re looking into that,” Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told the AP.

    Cruz did have disciplinary problems in the past and police were called to his home dozens of times over the last seven years in response to complaints involving him or his brother.

    A teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School told CNN he had received an email from a school administrator in 2016 when Cruz was a student there asking him to notify them if Cruz came on campus with a backpack.

    A coworker at the Parkland Dollar Tree store told WPEC Friday that Cruz talked about guns often, but he did not find that suspicious at the time.

    “At the time you know, I thought It was just his passion,” Brian Hamlen said about Cruz’s fascination with guns. “But it turns out he had a devious, devious plot in mind.”

    Hamlen stressed that Cruz did not seem to him to be the kind of person who would go on a deadly rampage like this. Still, he questioned whether he or someone else should have seen the red flags sooner.

    “Multiple people aside from the FBI had known this,” he said. “There were people at school when I was there and throwing these things around that he's going to do it.”

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