Shooter Cruz’s mom was an “enabler,” Pinellas sheriff says

Accused Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooter Nikolas Cruz had a series of behavioral and anger issues dating back to preschool, and his mother was an “enabler,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, chairman of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission said today.

Looking back at Cruz’s behavior, “It is death by a thousand cuts. It’s a lot of stuff. It’s a lot of little stuff and when it’s viewed in the aggregate it probably is more than a little stuff,” Gualtieri said.

However, there weren’t the policies, protocols, laws, tools and resources to put together the broad picture of a student who would ultimately be accused of the February mass killings at the school in Parkland.

Gualtieri said that raises questions about whether there should be someone or some entity in a position to “take more of a global 360 view” so that generally minor issues could be viewed in the aggregate.

The sheriff also said that Cruz’s mother, who had already passed away at the time of the Parkland massacre, contributed significantly to Cruz’s behavior.

Gaultieri referred to an anecdote about Cruz wanting to buy a gun and his counselor objecting. But Cruz’s mom said, “I don’t care,” if he wanted a gun, Gaultieri said.

The Commission is meeting this week to continue its investigation of the killings at Parkland and how school security can be improved.

Gaultieri also said that numerous people, from school counselors to behavioral specialists, tried very hard to change Cruz and his behavior. “There was a whole bunch of effort being made,” the sheriff said.

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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