WASHINGTON: "He seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this," said a former classmate of Nikolas Cruz, the gunman who is suspected of fatally shooting 17 people at a school in Florida.
Cruz, 19, preened with guns and knives on social media, bragged about shooting rats with his BB gun. He got kicked out of school — in part because he had brought bullets in his backpack, according to one classmate.
He was later expelled from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland for still-undisclosed disciplinary reasons, Miami Herald reported today.
Administrators considered him enough of a potential threat that one teacher said a warning was emailed last year against allowing him on the campus with a backpack.
"All he would talk about is guns, knives and hunting," said Joshua Charo, 16, a former classmate at the high school.
"I can't say I was shocked. From past experiences, he seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this," Charo was quoted as saying by the paper.
Detectives were digging into the past of Cruz who had no previous arrests but had displayed plenty of troubling behaviour before officers took him into custody after what ranks as the third-deadliest school shooting in American history.
Cruz, who was arrested soon after the shooting and taken to police headquarters, could face multiple state charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder.
At Stoneman Douglas High, he was part of the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps during his freshman year, classmates said.
Charo said he spoke little and "was into some weird stuff."
"He used to tell me he would shoot rats with his BB gun and he wanted this kind of gun, and how he liked to always shoot for practice," Charo said.
Federal authorities said that they did not believe the shooting was connected to terrorism.
Friends said he spoke little of his relatives. He and his brother were adopted when they were young by Lynda and Roger Cruz, of Long Island, New York, according to relatives. They raised the boys in Parkland.
Roger Cruz died over a decade ago and Lynda struggled with the boys, said Barbara Kumbatovich, a former sister-in-law.
"She did the best she could. They were adopted and had some emotional issues, she was quoted as saying by the Miami Herald.