Purpose Lost: Nikolas Cruz, Shooter at Douglas High

(We decided to give you two in one day.  As stated in previous post, there are so many challenging things happening in society.  We can choose to either take these moments to learn from them and do better, or do nothing and let things get worse.  In this blog, we touch on a tragic shooting that happened at a high school.  What great purpose can come from this?  We have yet to see.  What we do know is that many lives were lost.  And even though many may hate the shooter who did this, he's a broken young man who's purpose got lost.)

"To longtime friend, school shooter Nikolas Cruz was lonely, volatile, ostracized"

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By Julie K. Brown *article partially reposted from The Miami Herald

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is the jewel of Parkland, graduating top-notch students and athletes who grow up in a dignified affluence far removed from the gritty urban sprawl of Miami.

Many live in vast gated communities enveloped by horse pastures and pristine nature trails. Rated among the best high schools in Florida, Stoneman Douglas has won five national math championships, has the state’s top marching band and boasts science and engineering programs where students fly weather balloons and drones.

But Nikolas Cruz never felt a part of this warm nest of promise and achievement. The warning signs of a simmering danger brought on by his mental illness were documented by his school, his fellow students, his family, the police, child welfare agencies, the FBI and even by his own hand, on social media.

Cruz’s Valentine’s Day rampage at Stoneman Douglas that ended 17 lives came after months and years of violent, erratic outbursts that often frightened fellow students and others who came in contact with him, records show.

To Cruz, the campus’ sun-splashed courtyards were a dark place where he was mocked and ridiculed for his odd behavior, according to interviews with close family friends, students and recently released police and mental health reports.

“Someone could have approached a faculty member, a guidance counselor, a teacher and said, ‘This kid gets bullied a lot, someone should do something,’ ” said student Manolo Alvarez, 17, who had history class with Cruz. “I regret definitely not saying anything.”

Cruz, 19, is charged with entering the school near dismissal time, armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. He then strolled through the halls, firing into classrooms. Fourteen students and three staffers were killed, and more than a dozen others were injured.

On Saturday, Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz described the crime as “the type of case the death penalty was designed for.”

Yet there have been reams of reports, replete with one red flag after another, detailing Cruz’s violent descent, events that were mostly dismissed, downplayed or filed away by many of those in society entrusted with recognizing the potential danger that he posed to his family and to his community.

Cruz — at 5-foot-7 and 120 pounds — was scrawny, and rarely, if ever, felt comfortable with other kids, either in his Parkland neighborhood or at Stoneman Douglas, according to Paul Gold, who lived next door to the Cruz family and remained in touch with Nikolas up until his mother’s funeral in November.

Cruz had been diagnosed with the neurological disorder autism. Michael Alessandri, a clinical professor of psychology at the University of Miami, cautioned that Cruz’s diagnosis of autism should not be viewed as a cause of his attack at Stoneman Douglas High.

“It is a social communication disorder, not a violent disorder,” Alessandri said.

“He was ostracized his whole life,” said Gold, who said he was one of only four people, including Nikolas, and his younger brother, Zachary, who attended the funeral of his mother, Lynda Cruz, in November.

Cruz was treated for depression and attention deficit disorder, and his mother found it increasingly difficult to control his behavior from the time he was an adolescent, despite periodic interventions by mental health counselors and law enforcement authorities, records show.

“His mother made a major push to have him lead a normal life,” Gold said. “But toward the end of her life, she really had given up.’’

BSO deputies were summoned to their Parkland home more than 30 times in the past seven years, records show. The complaints ranged from petty domestic disputes to a time Cruz threw a vacuum cleaner at his mom.

Gold said Lynda Cruz was strict with her sons, and was not averse to striking them when they misbehaved. At least one time, DCF investigated her for possibly abusing the boys and inadequately supervising them. The case was closed. Nikolas Cruz was getting treatment at Henderson Mental Health, the DCF report said. Still, they concluded he was not enough of a threat to be hospitalized or committed to a facility.

To read the rest of the article, visit: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/broward/article200754714.html