Fort Lauderdale, Florida – Chaos reigned in the house where the Florida school shooter lived Nicholas Cruz Growing up, testimony in his ongoing penalty trial shows.
He and his half-brother Zachary tormented their widowed adoptive mother, Linda. By the time Cruz entered middle school in the early 2010s, the two were banging fists and baseball bats against a wall, leaving a gaping hole. Witnesses said they smashed televisions and cut furniture.
Zachary may have been two years youngerbut he was bigger, stronger, and relentlessly bullied his brother.One social worker recalled Zachary climbing onto the counter and stepping in while eating Nicholas’ cereal.
Linda Cruz called a sheriff’s deputy to her 420-square-meter family home at least 20 times between 2012 and 2016 to deal with one of her sons, another, or both. Most calls were to fight, destroy her property, disrespect her, or flee.
“I think Nicholas gets offended very easily and Zachary got some pleasure from pushing Nicholas’ buttons.” Frederick Kravitz, one of Cruz’s childhood psychologists, testifiedFurthermore, “they were very good at pushing[the mother’s]buttons”.
Nicholas Cruz, 23 years old pleaded guilty in October to murder 17 students, faculty and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on February 14, 2018. Trials will resume on Monday after a week off.
The Case of Chief Prosecutor Mike Sutz I was candid. he played a security video of the shooting and showed AR-15 style semi-auto rifle use cruise. teacher And the students testified about seeing others die.he showed Graphic autopsy and crime scene photos When took the jury to the still bloody, bullet-ridden classroom building Cruz was terrified. parents and spouse Gave tearful When anger statement of their loss.
In an attempt to counter that, assistant public defender Melissa McNeill and her team turned Cruise’s history into the centerpiece of the case. I hope at least one juror will vote for lifeDeath sentences must be unanimous.
The defense wants to show that from Cruz. Born a Fort Lauderdale prostitute who was a heavy drinker and crack-smoker, Even though he became more and more unruly, he could not get enough of the help he needed.
Nowhere was that more evident than in the house Roger and Linda Cruz built in Parkland, an upscale suburb of Fort Lauderdale. They adopted Nicholas at birth in 1998 and Zachary in 2000, who had a different birth father.
Linda Cruz, who soon turned 50 after adopting Nicholas, was a stay-at-home mom. Roger Cruz, then 61, owned a successful marketing business.
Linda Cruz “had always wanted kids, so when she got Nicholas, she felt like her family was complete,” testified friend Trish Davani Westerlind. A sweet little baby, she went and got him all these sailor suits, and she was the happiest I’ve ever seen.”
But in preschool, Cruz exhibited extreme behavior. His neighbors and teachers described him hitting and biting other children, being unsociable, being anxious, falling when running, and being unable to use tools. Nicholas began seeing psychiatrists and psychologists when he was three years old, and he didn’t fully speak or potty train until he was four years old.
When Cruz was just five years old when he entered kindergarten, He witnessed his father suffer a fatal heart attack. family cave. So Linda Cruz, who is in her mid-50s, is left alone with two sons who challenge the much younger couple.
Unemployed, she became paranoid about her spending, keeping her air conditioner at 80 degrees (25 to 30 degrees Celsius) and unplugging appliances when not in use. According to a friend, her monthly electricity bill is $80, a fraction of what owners of large South Florida homes typically pay.
She had padlocked the refrigerator to prevent her sons from eating it without permission, and had kept it because an out-of-stock neighbor had given her groceries.
Friends gave conflicting testimonies as to whether Linda Cruz was truly financially destitute or had wealth she didn’t want to use.
In both cases, she had expenses that other parents did not have. Cruz’s mental health treatment was not fully covered by his insurance. He loved online, often violent video games, but hated losing. Because of it, he smashed the TV and smashed the wall. She sometimes locked his video game console in the car as punishment. And Cruz smashed her window at least once to get it back.
“She was a little afraid of him,” testified neighbor Paul Gold.
Despite Cruz’s temper tantrums, Linda Cruz told teachers and counselors that he was a sweet, loving, mama’s boy. and his mother had a strong and often loving attachment, and she was more supportive of him than his brother.
Still, while Zachary remained popular in the neighborhood, Cruz was an outcast not only for the children.
Steven Schussler testified that not long after they moved nearby, the landlord called the Cruz boys over and pointed them to Nicolas, who was about 10 years old at the time.
“What a weirdo, isn’t it Nicky?” Schusler remembered the woman saying. Cruz “curled up” and “looked like a snail when salted”.
However, Cruz’s behavior was often bizarre and sometimes violent. When his dog ate a poisonous toad and died, he continued to kill against amphibians. In junior high school His outburst disrupted the class, and he filled his homework with racist slurs, swastikas, obscenities, stickman sex and shootings..
Lynda Cruz was overwhelmed in her early teens and social services agencies were called to help. That’s why she brought her case manager, Tiffany Forrest, to her home. She said that Linda Cruz complained that Nicholas wouldn’t bathe, so Forrest tried to explain to him the importance of hygiene. Then he climbed.
“I took a shower,” he told Forrest.
In the coming weeks, Cruz’s attorney will present testimony about his transfer to a school for students with emotional and behavioral problems, his time at Stoneman Douglas, and his brother’s Zachary currently resides in Virginia with two benefactors.
Their mother died four months before the shooting.
Frida Frisaro, AP writer from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., contributed to this report.
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https://www.ksat.com/news/national/2022/09/11/testimony-school-shooters-home-ruled-by-chaos/ School Shooter’s house ruled by chaos