More funerals are held for victims of this week’s mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. As the community struggles to come to grips with 17 innocent lives lost, many are calling for greater gun control.
And there are yet more signs emerging – of the suspect gunman’s ominous past.
CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez has more.
New glimpses into the mind of a troubled young man–CNN is reporting that alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz was a regular contributor to private Instagram chats fixated with race, violence and guns well before 17 people were shot to death this week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Cruz reportedly wrote “I hate Jews,” used an offensive term for blacks, and said he hated immigrants. He also talked about killing Mexicans and gays, keeping black people in chains and slashing their necks, according to CNN.
Meanwhile, local Florida reports say the state investigated Cruz in the fall of 2016 after he cut both of his arms on Snapchat. He reportedly told child welfare agents then that he planned to buy a gun, but they found him to be stable. This news came after revelations that local and federal law enforcement had received many warnings about Cruz.
“We have uncovered, at the Broward Sheriff’s Office, that we’ve had approximately 20 calls for service over the last few years regarding the confessed killer,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
Vice President Mike Pence has ordered an investigation into the FBI’s admitted failure to follow up on a very specific tip from someone close to Cruz back in January.
“We will get to the bottom of what happened here,” vowed U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, at a speech Saturday in Dallas for conservative advocacy group America First Policies. “And as we speak, the Justice Department is already working with agencies across our government to study the intersection of mental health and criminality. When President Trump meets with our nation’s governors in just a few short weeks, he will make the safety of our nation’s schools our top administration priority.”
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania met Friday night at a Florida hospital with some of the shooting victims, took the opportunity to praise the first responders. Afterwards, Trump ignored reporters’ questions about gun control.
Saturday afternoon, the issue of gun control was at the center of a rally held in Fort Lauderdale. Student survivors of the shooting were among those demanding government action.
“How about we stop blaming the victims for something that was the shooter’s fault,” said Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez. “The fault lies with the people who let him buy the guns in the first place–those at the gun shows, the people who encouraged him to buy accessories to make them fully automatic.”
“There are people from both sides who are saying, ‘enough of these guns’ and it’s not about that anymore,” said student Cameron Kasky. “This is about painting a badge of shame to put on anybody who has accepted money from the NRA.”
Cruz is next due in court Monday. His attorneys now say their goal is not to prove their client innocent, but rather to spare him the death penalty.