Local Florida officials once suggested accused Marjory Stoneman High School shooter Nikolas Cruz should be forcibly commit to a mental institution, but the advice was never heeded, the Associated Press reported Sunday.
Officials could have sent Cruz to a facility for treatment under the state’s Baker Law, and by doing so would have created a record for authorities to refer to so they could have been able to deny Cruz a firearm.
The 1971 legislation enables mental health facilities to hold a person for up to 72 hours for an evaluation.
However, according to documents obtained by the AP, in September 2016, two years before Cruz shot and killed 17 students and faculty at his former high school, school officials and a sheriff’s deputy suggested Cruz be involuntarily committed under the Baker Act.
The documents also describe Cruz’s anger issues surfacing from cutting himself with a pencil sharpener to telling a fellow student he wanted to purchase a firearm. The accused gunman also told another student he had consumed gasoline and later vomited.
NBC News reported on Feb. 19 that staffers from a South Florida mental health facility known as Henderson Behavioral Health were called in 2016 after Cruz released a Snapchat video showing himself cutting his arms and revealing he wanted “to go out and buy a gun.” Additionally, he drew a Nazi symbol on his book bag and wrote, “I hate n—–s.”
Although Broward County mental health professionals were aware of Cruz, it is unknown as to why action was not taken to commit him. However, according to NBC News, a report from the Florida Department of Children and Families appeared to show medical neglect.
“[Cruz’s] clinician from Henderson mental health has stated that there are no issues with [Cruz’s] medication and he has been compliant with taking his medication and keeps all of his appointments,” the report stated.
A staffer from Henderson visited Cruz, a school counselor later revealed to the Florida Department of Children and Families investigators, and “found him to be stable enough [to] not be hospitalized.” However, the school counselor remained wary about the conclusion the department came to about the teenager and stated that she and her staff wanted to “ensure that the assessment of Henderson was not premature.”
The Florida Department of Children and Families investigation, though, stuck with its decision and closed the case “with no indicators to support the allegations of inadequate supervision or medical neglect.”
Cruz was previously seeing a school psychiatrist in 2014 and his therapist’s psychiatric file on him “reported [a dream] last week of him killing people and covered in blood. He smiled and told the therapist that sometimes he says things for shock value,” The Miami Herald reported. Additionally, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel had previously stated that in the past few years his office had received around 20 calls about Cruz.