Instagram accounts reported to be those of suspected Florida shooter Nikolas Cruz have shown the 19-year-old had a long-standing obsession with guns and referred to himself as the “annihilator.”
Images from a now-deleted social media account, the validity of which Cruz’s classmates confirmed to the Miami Herald, show the teenager, accused of gunning down 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, posing with a number of different weapons and discussing gun modifications.
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Covering his face with bandanas and wearing different hats, Cruz can be seen in the images posted on social media holding a large knife with a molded grip. In another, he holds three hunting knives between his fingers in a claw.
In other even more troubling screenshots, Cruz, a former student at Stoneman Douglas, can be seen discussing making modifications to a rifle and asking about background checks. On Wednesday, police said, the teenager was armed with an AR-15 rifle as he carried out the attack.
Another picture apparently shared by Cruz depicts a target covered in bullet holes with the caption “group therapy” written underneath.
A second Instagram page, with the handle “nikolas annihilator,” was identified by the website Heavy. The account has also been removed from the social media platform and cannot be verified as belonging to Cruz.
Cruz’s former classmates have said he was a troubled student. He had been expelled from the Parkland school for unspecified disciplinary reasons, Reuters reported.
“He was crazy about guns,” Chad Williams, 18, a senior at the high school said. “He was kind of an outcast. He didn’t have many friends. He would do anything crazy for a laugh, but he was trouble.”
According to the Miami Herald, some students characterized Cruz as exactly the kind of student who would carry out a school shooting.
“If you were to pick one person you might predict in the future would shoot up a school or do this, it would be this kid,” John Crescitelli, one parent said, quoting his son.
Teachers at the school had also been warned Cruz could be dangerous.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” math teacher Jim Gard said. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”