The 19-year-old who opened fire on his former high school in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 people rambled about demons and repeatedly said he wanted to die in confession tapes released on Wednesday.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office took the shooter into custody after he showed up to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day with an AR-15 and shot and killed several of his former classmates and teachers. During an interrogation the same day, he punched himself in the face as he confessed to the shooting, which he said voices and demons he heard in his head told him to carry out.
The tape reveals further evidence of the shooter’s extremely disturbed mental state, which went largely unaddressed before he committed the heinous crime.
When a Broward Sheriff’s detective started questioning the Parkland shooter, the officer asked if he’d like some cold water.
“I don’t deserve it,” the shooter responded.
The detective then left the room and came back with water anyway. While the shooter was alone in the room, he continued talking.
“Kill me. Just fucking kill me. Fuck,” he said, alone. “I want to die. At the end, you are nothing but worthless, dude. You deserve to die.”
When the detective returned, he asked the shooter about his family, where he lived, and if he had done any drugs recently. The shooter said he took Xanax and smoked marijuana recreationally and that two months ago, he tried to kill himself by taking pills.
A few years ago, the shooter said he also tried to give himself alcohol poisoning. Then, he and the officer started talking about when Cruz shot and killed animals.
The shooter attempted to take his life multiple times before carrying out the massacre. And in 2016, a Florida mental health agency examined him but decided not to hospitalize him after he sent out a Snapchat video of him cutting his arms. The shooter also had a long history of school discipline that never led to any substantial mental health help. The FBI also ignored a tip the month before his attack that he might be at risk of committing a school shooting.
In his confession, the shooter eventually told the officer about the voices and demons he said were speaking to him for years, right up until the morning and night before he killed 17 people.
“I hear demons,” the shooter said, saying the voice was the “bad side” of him. “The voice is in here and then it's me, it's just regular me, just trying to be a good person.”
The voice told him to “burn, kill, destroy” and to buy a gun and hurt people, although it wasn’t specific about whom. Months before the massacre, the shooter had threatened to kill another teen who had started dating the shooter’s ex-girlfriend.
The detective also asked why the shooter didn’t try to get help and added that a prescription for marijuana or Xanax could have stopped the voices. He told the shooter that if he wanted the demon to go away, he could have gotten rid of it and alluded that he may have wanted the demon ton stay.
“I don't like the demon,” the shooter said. That’s when he ended the interrogation and asked for an attorney.
The shooter originally pleaded not guilty to 17 counts of murder he’s charged with but later withdrew the plea, a move that allows his attorneys to prepare for the possibility of the death penalty, which state prosecutors said they will seek. A judge then entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf in March.
The video, however, could call into question whether Cruz is competent to stand trial.
Cover image: The Parkland shooter points his fingers to his temple at an interrogation room, while officers are out of the room, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in this image made from video provided on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018. (Broward County Sheriff's Office via AP)(Broward County Sheriff's Office via AP)