The family that took in Nikolas Cruz following the death of his mother last year believes the alleged Florida school shooter was within his rights to own a gun, but were unsure of how many firearms he brought into their home when he moved in.
James and Kimberly Snead thought their son’s friend Cruz, 19, may have brought with him about five or six guns when he came to live with them in November.
“I didn’t know what kind they were,” James Snead told CBS News of the firearms. “It didn’t matter what kind of guns they were. I have guns. I respect guns as long as they’re handled properly, safely.”
Cruz was told he must have a gun safe before moving in with the Sneads, but the family wasn’t opposed to his owning whatever guns he wanted.
"I knew he had hunting rifles... I knew he had [an] assault rifle, but I knew he used it out hunting," James Snead said. "It’s his right to own a gun."
Cruz had been living with the Sneads for about three months when he allegedly used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to kill 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the deadliest school shooting in Florida's history.
“The Nik we knew was not the Nik that everybody else seemed to know,” James Snead said.
Kimberly Snead agreed, saying: “He pulled one over on us, as well as a lot of people.”
The couple believed Cruz to be depressed over the death of his mother, but said there were no other signs of trouble.
“We put him on a positive path, trying to heal,” Kimberly Snead told CBS. “And he just blew it... absolutely floored us.”
The Florida Department of Children and Families noted in a 2016 report that Cruz suffered from depression, ADHD and autism.
Broward County sheriff deputies were called to the home of Cruz’s mother 39 times between 2011 and 2016. Several of those calls were allegedly due to Cruz’s violent outbursts.
James Snead said he thought there was only one key to the safe where he made Cruz keep his weapons.
He told CBS that he now believes there were two keys and Cruz had the other.
“We feel heartfelt sorrow for the families involved,” James Snead said. "As far as being responsible, feeling responsibility, you know, we worked that out and there was nothing different we would have done."
Meanwhile, at least 100 students and staff who survived the shooting will travel to the Florida capital Tuesday to advocate gun control and school safety.
“I really think they are going to hear us out,” Chris Grady, 19, told the Chicago Tribune.
The senior told the paper that he hopes the trip will bring about “common sense laws like rigorous background checks.”
Grady is among the dozens of teens and their supporters who will rally Wednesday in hopes of speaking with lawmakers about what can be done to evoke change.
"I’m not gonna let my daughter’s death go in vain," Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter, Meadow Pollack, was killed in last week’s shooting, told WSVN-TV. "I promised all these kids that I’ve been talking to that they’re gonna to go school and they’re gonna be safe, and we’re gonna have a movement."
Florida Gov. Rick Scott will hold meetings Tuesday with law enforcement, school officials, teachers and mental health professionals about protecting children in schools and preventing those struggling with mental illness from acquiring guns.
The gatherings will be broadcast on a livestream.
“I have spent the last week in Parkland talking to members of the community, students and families of the victims who are suffering following this horrific shooting," Scott said in a statement. "While there are only three weeks left of the legislative session, we must make changes to keep students safe. A tragedy like what occurred in Broward County must never happen again and swift action is needed now... this is an urgent matter that we must address quickly."