FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School told investigators he encountered shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz in a stairwell as he was loading his AR-15 rifle and was told, “you better get out of here,” according to police interview transcripts released Friday.
The student’s account is part of the prosecution’s case against Cruz, who is charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the Valentine’s Day massacre in Parkland, Florida. The student, whose name was redacted, says he was on a bathroom break when he found Cruz pulling the rifle out of a bag.
He told authorities Cruz said this: “You better get out of here, something bad is about to happen. … And then he just, he told me to run. So I ran.”
The student, whose account has previously been described by authorities, said he saw the weapon clearly.
“It was an assault rifle. It was all black; it was long,” he told detectives.
Cruz, 19, has offered to plead guilty if the death penalty is waived but prosecutors have not agreed to that. Authorities say he confessed to the crime and previously prosecutors released cellphone videos Cruz recorded in which he describes in detail what he planned to do at the school that he had attended.
Another interview released Friday was with a Stoneman Douglas security monitor who was in the building just as Cruz entered. The monitor, whose name is also redacted but who school officials have identified as David Taylor, said he saw Cruz carrying the gun bag from about a 50-yard distance down a school hallway. He had been alerted to Cruz’s presence by another monitor, Andrew Medina, both of whom were well-acquainted with the troubled former student.
“And, uh, I believe he made eye contact with me. I looked at him and he immediately made a right turn into that far east stairwell,” Taylor told detectives.
He said he ran up to the second floor to try to intercept Cruz but did not see the teen. Then the gunshots started.
“I heard two shots and then a volley of a bunch of shots. Then I immediately took cover inside a custodial closet on the second floor,” Taylor said.
After about 10 minutes in the closet, Taylor said a police officer found him and led him outside.
“It felt like hours I was in that closet,” he said.
Taylor, like Medina an assistant baseball coach at Stoneman Douglas, told detectives that he knew Cruz well from his time at the school and had frequently taken him out of class for defiant behavior and being disrespectful to teachers.
“Not only me but all of our security personnel. I would say everybody. I would, yeah, because they’ve all been there long enough … I would say all the security personnel dealt with that kid,” he said.
The Broward County school district has reassigned both Medina and Taylor to other schools since the shooting.
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