Letter: Shooter at school fixated with guns, dreamed of murder

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida — Four years before Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at a Florida high school, therapists at another school wrote a letter to his psychiatrist saying he was fixated on guns and dreamed of killing others and getting covered in blood, it turns out. from testimonies during his criminal trial Thursday.

dr. Brett Negin, who testified for the defense, said he never received it.

Negin and another psychiatrist who treated Cruz in the decade leading up to the Feb. 14, 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland testified at Thursday’s abbreviated court hearing about the various medications he was receiving for ADHD and other problems. Both said they never saw anything during cross-examination by prosecutors that would have led them to believe he was capable of mass murder.

But Negin, who treated Cruz from 2012 to August 2017, was then shown by the defense a June 2014 letter written to him by a psychiatrist and therapist at Cross Creek School, a campus frequented by students with emotional and behavioral problems. .

dr. Nyrma N. Ortiz and therapist Rona O’Connor Kelly’s two-page letter to Negin says Cruz, then 15, was experiencing extreme mood swings, adding, “He’s usually very irritable and reactive.” They said he is “inappropriately” obsessed with guns and the military, defiant, verbally aggressive towards his teachers, paranoid and blaming others for the problems he causes.

“At home, he remains aggressive and destructive with minimal provocation,” the two wrote. He smashed a television after losing a video game, punched holes in walls and used sharp objects to cut up furniture and punch holes in the bathroom. He had an ax that he used to cut down a dead tree in the backyard, but his mother reported she couldn’t find it anymore.

Cruz said at school, “he dreams of killing others and is covered in blood.”

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The two said he had been examined for hospitalization, but that never happened. They said they were writing Negin so he could adjust Cruz’s medication.

Negin testified on Thursday that he never received the letter and that no one followed up when he did not respond. He said the typical Cross Creek procedure if staff had problems with one of his patients was to have a counselor come to his office with the student and parents to discuss the matter.

“This hasn’t happened to Mr. Cruz once,” Negin said.

Negin also testified that he wrote a letter to Cruz’s mother in 2013 to support his voluntary hospitalization. That never happened.

Office and home numbers for Ortiz were disconnected. O’Connor Kelly did not immediately respond to an email on Thursday for comment.

The defense is trying to show that Cruz, 23, had a long history of mental health problems that were never fully treated. He pleaded guilty to the murders in October — the trial is only to decide whether he will be sentenced to death or life without parole.

The defense is trying to get over the prosecution’s case, which ended earlier this month. It contained surveillance video of Cruz, then 19, mowing down students and staff with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle as he occupied a three-story building for seven minutes, photos of the aftermath, and a jury visit to the building.

For Cruz to receive the death penalty, the jury of seven men and five women must be unanimous. If one juror votes for life, that’s his punishment.


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Associated Press writer Freida Frisaro in Fort Lauderdale contributed to this report.

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