FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The family who took in the 19-year-old suspected of killing 17 people at a Florida high school testified Wednesday before a grand jury considering charges against him.
After his mother died in November, Cruz briefly lived with a family friend and then moved in with James and Kimberly Snead.
After meeting with the Broward County grand jury, the couple and their attorney declined to discuss their testimony. Both James Snead and the attorney, Jim Lewis, wore silver “17” pins to honor the victims of the shooting.
The couple is “trying to do the right thing” and is mourning along with the rest of the Parkland community, Lewis said.
“We’ll let justice take its course at this point,” Lewis said. “They still don’t know what happened, why this happened. They don’t have any answers. They feel very badly for everybody.”
Cruz told investigators he took an AR-15 rifle to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Valentine’s Day and started shooting into classrooms.
Jail records released to local news stations showed Cruz was being held in solitary confinement. The Broward Sheriff’s Office has released a report of officers’ observations from Feb. 17 through Feb. 24. Officers described Cruz as being cooperative but avoiding eye contact.
The report said Cruz “often sits with a blank stare,” appeared to laugh and exhibited “awkward” behavior during and after a visit with an attorney and had one “family visit.” Officers said Cruz also requested a Bible to read in his single-person cell in the infirmary.
In Tallahassee, the Florida House was expected to vote on gun legislation stemming from the school shooting.
The legislation would put some restrictions on rifle sales, provide new mental health programs for schools and improve communication between school districts, law enforcement and state agencies. Democrats’ efforts failed Tuesday to strip the bill of language that would create a program to arm some teachers and school employees who complete law enforcement training.
Two parents who lost children in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings told reporters that all the families of Parkland victims want the legislation to succeed.
Andrew Pollack, who lost his 18-year-old daughter Meadow, and Ryan Petty, who lost his 14-year-old daughter Alaina, said there was enough good in the bill that it should pass.
After visiting the Parkland school Wednesday, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said she wants to hear suggestions to improve school safety from students who survived the shooting.
DeVos told reporters that arming some teachers should be considered an option but not a requirement. As a model, she cited a program in Florida’s Polk County where teachers or other employees at two private universities have trained with the sheriff’s office so they can carry concealed weapons on campus.
The Sun Sentinel reported a second student injured in the shooting has filed a letter of intent to sue the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the school system and others. Doctors said one bullet tore through 15-year-old Kyle Laman’s ankle and foot, according to a statement from The Berman Law Group, which is representing the teenager.
“Kyle is still dealing with memories of the terror he felt when his classroom was locked and he was stuck in the hallway during the shooting,” the statement said. “The teacher couldn’t get the door open fast enough. Everyone was running scared. Kyle looked at the gunman staring right back at him, and instinctively jumped for cover.”
Separately, 15-year-old Anthony Borges and his parents have notified county officials of their plan to sue. Anthony was shot five times in his legs and torso and remains hospitalized, his attorney Alex Arreaza said.
Farrington reported from Tallahassee, Florida, and Replogle reported from Parkland, Florida. Associated Press writer Jennifer Kay in Miami contributed to this report.
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(AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)