Florida officials tried to commit Nikolas Cruz years before school shooting

Florida officials tried to commit Nikolas Cruz years before school shooting

Documents obtained by the Associated Press have revealed that Nikolas Cruz, 19, who is accused of killing 17 people and injuring others in the Florida school shooting on February 14, was recommended to be committed for a mental health check by two schools counselors and a resource officer who also worked as a sheriff's deputy.

Officials were so concerned about the mental stability of the student accused of last month's Florida school massacre that they chose to have him forcibly committed more than a year before the shootings.

Such drastic measures could have potentially prevented or made it more hard for Cruz to buy the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that he used in his Valentine's Day rampage through the school that he was expelled from.

Cruz was arrested after 14 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine's Day.

This is a developing story.

That involuntary commitment would have been a serious obstacle or maybe even prevented Cruz from being able to legally obtain the AR-15 rifle used in the Parkland massacre, authorities say.

Under Florida's Baker Act, involuntary commitment of a person may be initiated by an official, including a judge, mental health physician or law enforcement officer, such as Peterson.

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Lynda Cruz, Cruz's mother who died in November, expressed in the documents she was anxious about her son's mental state after he punched holes in the walls of their Parkland home.

Despite the warnings and recommendations regarding Cruz's state of mental health, there's no evidence that he was ever committed. Clinicians had repeatedly concluded that the Baker Act would not justify committing Cruz because he denied having an intent or a plan to hurt himself or others.

An attorney for Peterson did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Sunday. Cruz was indicted on 34 counts of permitted murder and attempted murder.

He faces the death penalty if convicted, but defence lawyer Melisa McNeill said he would plead guilty in return for a life prison sentence.

Five days earlier, on September 23, Lynda Cruz had summoned a different Henderson clinician to her home because Nikolas Cruz was verbally aggressive and "punching holes in the wall". He had also cut his arm after a breakup and wrote the word "kill" in a notebook, the AP reported. Reports say his grades had fallen.

It's not clear from the documents who the recommendation was forwarded to or why it was not followed up.

'Change is coming, change is here and change is here to stay, ' David Hogg, a Stoneman Douglas student who survived the shooting, told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

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