A police interrogation transcript released on Monday contains not only Nikolas Cruz’s confession to carrying out the shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school but also remarks that reveal his state of mind before, during, and after the attack. Police interrogated Cruz hours after the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead and 17 wounded, and fueled the national debate about gun control.
Cruz told Broward County Sheriff’s Office detective John Curcio during his 12-hour interrogation that a “demon” voice in his head told him to “Burn. Kill. Destroy.” The voice, he claimed, directed him to buy the AR-15 used in the massacre and to take an Uber to the school. He also told Curcio that, before the Parkland shooting, he had planned to open fire on people at a park and had experienced a previous run-in with police for “shooting animals.” He told police he had made two past attempts on his own life, one with Ibuprofen and one with alcohol.*
Several pages of the transcript have been redacted. At varying points during the interview, Cruz talked to himself, contradicted his own statements, and requested a psychologist.
He became defensive when Curcio expressed doubt about the “voice” in his head. “Personally, I think you’re using the demon as an excuse,” the police detective said. “You could have stopped the demon any time you want. You didn’t want to stop the demon … I think you like the demon.”
After disputing that claim, Cruz asked for an attorney.
When Curcio left the room for a moment, Cruz said, “I want to die.”
Cruz’s brother Zachary was brought into the room later in the interview, saying, “People think you’re a monster now. … Why did you do this?”
“I’m sorry, dude,” Cruz replied. Much of that conversation has been redacted.
A court-ordered report, which was released on Friday and published unredacted by the Sun-Sentinel, revealed that Cruz had asked the Broward County school district for special counseling assistance months before the shooting, but the district did not follow through.
Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder. His defense attorneys are looking to strike a plea deal, in which Cruz would plead guilty in exchange for life in prison without parole. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.
“He is the most damaged and broken human being I have encountered in 40 years doing this type of work,” Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein told the Washington Post in an email.
The transcript adds to a litany of evidence previously released by law enforcement, as The Washington Post points out, including footage of police responding to the crime scene, some 911 calls from the attack, and video footage of Cruz announcing his plans to become “a professional school shooter” and bragging about how it would make him famous.
The release of the transcript and a video of the interrogation was ordered by a Florida judge last month. It comes just a week before the start of the new school year at Stoneman Douglas.
Correction, Aug. 10, 2018: This post originally stated that Cruz had tried to kill himself with Xanax and marijuana.