James and Kimberly Snead took Nikolas Cruz into their home after his adopted mother died, and months later, the shooting left them bewildered.
Cruz’s adopted mother died in November, and he briefly moved in with a family friend before he went to live with the Sneads. While they knew he was depressed about his mother’s death, they had no idea he was capable of massacring innocent people.
“We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know,” Kimberly told the Sun-Sentinel. “We didn’t see this side of him.”
James said that the disturbing things people knew about Cruz, “we didn’t know,” and he added, “It’s as simple as that.”
The Sneads were aware Cruz had guns, as they are responsible gun owners themselves, but they required him to keep them in a locked safe.
James was under the impression he was the only one with the key to the safe, and the couple required Cruz to ask permission before using the firearms.
The couple implemented strict rules and explained they thought he was doing well. He was excited when an Army recruiter came to school, and they said he wanted to be an infantryman.
“What else could this family have possibly done to put this young man on the right track?” their attorney, Jim Lewis, told the Sun-Sentinel. “They tried to do a good deed and it went horribly wrong for them.”
While they assumed he was bullied and knew he was lonely, they saw no signs of animal cruelty, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary the night before the massacre.
After he told Kimberley he doesn’t “go to school on Valentine’s Day,” she left the house to run errands, and he was gone by the time she got home.
During Cruz’s Uber ride to school, he texted their son. According to the Sun-Sentinel, he asked what classroom the boy was in and, as he arrived at school, said, “Yo.”
Cruz also said he had “something important” to tell him but later added that it was, “Nothing man.”
The Sun-Sentinel reported that James received a panicked phone call from his son around 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday about hearing gunshots. He told his son to walk to Walmart and he’d pick him up, but then he received another disturbing phone call — from the SWAT commander.
He asked where Cruz was, and after realizing what happened, he called the commander back and said, “I need a police presence at my house. Go make sure my wife is OK.”
James said he was “fearing for her life,” and when police arrived, they searched the house, but Cruz was already in custody.
The Sneads met their son, who had been questioned and deemed innocent, at the Broward Sheriff’s headquarters. When Kimberly saw Cruz, her husband had to hold her back.
“He said he was sorry. He apologized. He looked lost, absolutely lost,” James told the Sun-Sentinel. “And that was the last time we saw him.”
Kimberly took Cruz to her therapist’s office five days before the shooting. While he said he was open to it, he explained he didn’t like medication, so he took a business card and was figuring out what insurance would cover.
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