ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Identifying red flags in students

Common Sense Staff

17 innocent lives were lost on Feb. 14. These students and teachers woke up and went to school at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School like it was any other day. But it was not just any other day. Nikolas Cruz, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, opened fired on students and staff starting around 2:21p.m.. After mass shootings such as Columbine and Sandy Hook, some might think that more would be done to stop events like this from ever happening again. People were able to see the red flags with Cruz, but there is a larger issue at play.


A first warning sign that should be focused on is mental health. According to CNN, Cruz was adopted at a young age and when his adoptive father died in 2004, he began to become more depressed and angry. His adoptive mother called the police on him multiple times due to his violent behavior. He was seen killing small animals around his neighborhood and getting in fights with other kids on many occasions. There was one specific instance where his adoptive mother called the police on him, and there was an opportunity for the police to take him into custody because he was mentally ill, but the Henderson Behavioral Health facility felt that that was unnecessary. His mental health deteriorated after his adoptive mother died in 2017. Cruz was a loner and did not have any friends to confide in. He got in trouble more than 20 times with administration, from middle school to high school, for use of profanity all the way to getting in fights with other students. He occasionally brought knives and BB guns to school. It got so bad to the point where he was no longer allowed to bring a backpack to school, and later was expelled. “I think the school system did the most that they could do, but unfortunately that alone was not enough,” senior Nisha Ramamurthy said.


Cruz’s online and social media presence scared people. Cruz’s Instagram account featured multiple pictures of his guns and knives. He even asked for advice from other people on his Instagram, when he was thinking of buying a shotgun, about the cost and background checks. CNN also mentioned that the FBI also received a complaint from a Youtube user when someone with the name of Nikolas Cruz commented on his video “Im going to be a professional school shooter.” The FBI had also been made aware of his three different instagram accounts with comments saying he wanted to kill people, but failed to act on this information. One of the calls to the FBI came from a woman close to Cruz, who said “in case something does happen and I do believe something’s going to happen,” she wanted to make the FBI aware of his behavior.


Until the government focuses on the larger issue of gun control, these red flags are not enough to put an end to school shootings. Recognizing these warning signs are just one part of a larger issue, that will take effort into fixing. While a shooting like this is devastating for the people involved and the rest of the country, this needs to be used as motivation for change.


Rachel Berman

Staff Writer