On Feb. 14, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen students and faculty members have died, and over a dozen others were injured in the event. In the wake of the tragedy, the country is left with numerous questions regarding the shooter, his home life, and how this happened.
Those at the high school weren’t the only ones affected that day. Nikolas Cruz had a younger brother, Zachary, who has also spoken out about the shooting. Here’s what he had to say, including a ph0to he posted of him and Nikolas during a more innocent time (see page 5).
1. Nikolas and Zachary have the same birth mother and went to the same adoptive family
The Sun-Sentinel reports that Lynda and Roger Cruz arranged a private adoption with Nikolas Cruz’s birth mother. As soon as Nikolas was born, his new adoptive parents whisked him away to their beautiful (and enormous) Florida home. And when Nikolas’ birth mother got pregnant again, the couple adopted her next son, Zachary, too.
Roger was described as a “suit-and-tie man” who never owned any guns, and Lynda was a stay-at-home mom who Nikolas adored. When the boys were in their first years of life, everything seemed perfect.
Next: This is when the first signs of trouble started to arise.
2. Trouble started early when Nikolas watched his father die
From a very young age, Nikolas was diagnosed with multiple disorders, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Records from the state show he dealt with depression, ADHD, autism, and emotional behavior issues. And when he watched his father die from a heart attack, this may have exasperated the problems.
When Nikolas was 5, his mother noticed him running down the hallway of their home into his room. When she asked him if his father had punished him for something, he simply said, “Nope. Daddy’s dead.”
Next: One neighbor says she always expected to see Nikolas charged with murder.
3. Nikolas was often violent with his mother and brother
Joelle Guarino was a friend and neighbor to Lynda, and she claims she always knew Nikolas would one day murder, CNN reports. She says when Nikolas was just a baby, he would smack her own sons repeatedly with a plastic toy. And when he was 10, he hit her son in the eye with a rock.
She goes on to report even weirder things, like how Lynda would keep the pantry locked up and how Nikolas’ room was covered in holes from him punching the walls out of anger. Records also show Lynda called the police on her son for getting violent with her and Zachary.
Next: Here’s what happened to Zachary after the shooting.
4. Zachary was placed into a mental hospital following the shooting
At the time of the shooting, Nikolas and Zachary were in the care of family friend Roxanne Deschamps, who took them in after Lynda died from flu-related complications. And the New York Post reports just a few days after the shooting, authorities were seen removing someone from the Deschamps’ home. A friend of the family confirmed the person being removed was Zachary Cruz.
The younger Cruz was committed to a mental facility under the Baker’s Act. This can hold someone involuntarily for up to 12 hours while they participate in a psyche evaluation. As for why Zachary was committed is still unclear.
Next: This is the photo Zachary shared on social media.
5. He appears to have shared this photo of him and his brother as children
Zachary didn’t respond immediately to the news of his brother committing a massacre. But after a week of silence, it appears the young Cruz finally reached out on Facebook. The New York Post explains someone identifying himself as Zachary Cruz opened up his social media account to the public. He posted a message that said, “Appreciate all the positive messages,” along with a photo of him and Nikolas hugging as kids.
Though it’s tough to verify if it’s really Zachary’s account, all of his Facebook friends are South Florida high schoolers, so it seems real.
Next: Another photo of the brothers has made its rounds online.
6. That’s not the only photo of the two that has surfaced online
There aren’t many photos circulating online of Nikolas and Zachary, especially since Nikolas left the Deschamps home following a violent spat with Roxanne’s son. But Daily Mail Online does share this photo of the two brothers holding an urn of their mother’s ashes. There’s another photo of Nikolas happily standing in front of a Christmas tree, which was taken around the same time.
It’s believed these photos were taken in November or December 2017, right around when police were warned Nikolas may be a “school shooter in the making.”
Next: Here’s how Zachary feels now regarding everything that’s happened.
7. Zachary says he deeply regrets bullying Nikolas when they were kids
So, how does Zachary feel about the shooting, his brother, and the ongoing chaos? Daily Mail Online reports he regrets picking on his brother when they were both children. Apparently the two weren’t very close growing up, and Zachary and his friends often made fun of Nikolas. He now wishes he’d been nicer all those years and harbored less resentment for Nikolas being the “favored brother.”
Zachary’s mandatory stay for his psyche evaluation didn’t last long, as he was seen skateboarding near his home. As for what the future holds for the young Cruz, we’ll have to see.
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