Nikolas Cruz’s late mother was an “enabler” who overrode the objections of school counselors when the future Parkland shooter wanted to buy a gun, according to the chairman of the state commission investigating the massacre.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who leads the commission reviewing the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said several counselors tried to help Cruz with his behavioral and disciplinary problems.
“This is not a situation where there wasn’t yeoman’s work being done by a whole bunch of people to try and get this guy off the path that he was on,” he said. “But it just wasn’t being effective.”
“His mother was an enabler, and his mother contributed to this significantly,” Gualtieri said at a Tuesday meeting of the commission, held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. “To the point where at one time when they said that he wanted to buy a gun and the counselors from the school said he shouldn’t have a gun, his mother said ‘I don’t care. If he wants a gun, he can have a gun.’”
But a review of Nikolas Cruz’s psychiatric memos show it wasn’t as simple or uncontested as that. His mother initially resisted and they battled over the issue.
A mental health counselor paid a visit to the Cruz home in September 2016 when Nikolas Cruz acted out because his mother refused to take him to get a state-issued ID, which he would have needed to buy a gun. He turned 18 that month, legally old enough to make the purchase on his own.
Cruz told the counselor he etched the word “kill” in a notebook because he was upset and angry with his mother.
“But I wouldn’t hurt my mom,” he told the counselor, Anna Del Barrio.
Lynda Cruz had been a stay-at-home mom who doted on Nikolas Cruz. She was his closest friend, advocating for him and siding with him as he warred with his brother and the world around him, friends told the Sun Sentinel.
In a Henderson Behavioral Health psychiatric memo on the day before Nikolas Cruz turned 18, Lynda Cruz had made the decision to take her son to get his ID. But she had plans to keep it in a safe place, only to be used when she accompanied him to buy pellets for his pellet gun. Henderson is a mental health clinic in Davie that treated Nikolas for two years.
Lynda Cruz said she understood the school had concerns about her son getting a gun, but she explained she had been trying to teach him not to make incendiary statements when upset and she had no worries about his gun ownership. She would “feel comfortable” if he decided to get one, she said.
“I’m not concerned, and l’m not afraid,” she said. “My son has pellet guns and has always respected the rules of where they can and can’t be used.”
The school’s JROTC program already had banned Cruz from firing guns with the group during shooting practice.
A longtime friend of Lynda Cruz’s said she thought Lynda Cruz gave in to her son’s desire to buy a gun because she feared him. He had been physically violent with her, according to Broward Sheriff’s Office records and recent witness statements.
“I think she was afraid of him, actually,” the friend said.
When detectives interviewed Katherine Blaine, a cousin of Lynda Cruz, she said Nikolas Cruz once swung at his mother, hit her in the mouth and knocked three teeth loose over something trivial. She said the incident happened several months before Lynda Cruz died on Nov. 1, 2017.