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Saturday
Feb172018

Florida teen who survived shooting massacre rallies passionate crowd, 'It's time for victims' to change gun laws

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- Teen survivors of the shooting massacre at a Florida high school this week were among the speakers at a rally for firearm-safety legislation that drew a passionate, sign-waving crowd of hundreds of gun control supporters in Fort Lauderdale.

Emma Gonzalez, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 students and staff were killed Wednesday, wiped tears as she urged the audience at the Saturday rally to fight for firearms restrictions to help prevent further mass shootings.

After Gonzalez slammed politicians who accept contributions from the NRA, saying they should be ashamed, the crowd began loudly chanting, “Shame on you! Shame on you!”

The student said she and her classmates in AP classes at the high school often debated gun control and were discussing it even as the shooting broke out Wednesday.

But she like other students who spoke at the rally said the time for talk is over and now elected officials must take action or the public will.

“If all our government and president can do is send thoughts and prayers then it’s time for victims to be the change we need to be,” Gonzalez said.

Another student from the high school, David Hogg, urged the crowd: “Get out there and vote.”

Even beyond voting, Hogg said, "Run for office.'

The rally at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale was sponsored by gun-control advocacy groups such as Moms Demand Action as well as other organizations including the PTA, the League of Women Voters, Women's March Florida and the Broward Teachers Union.

Delaney Tarr, a classmate of Hogg and Gonzalez, told the rapt audience that the gun laws that allegedly allowed 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz to buy an AR-15 rifle make no sense.

"Because of these gun laws, people I love have died," Tarr said. "Where's the common sense in that? People are dying every day."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Feb172018

'Painfully in the news again,' parents who lost 2 children in alleged nanny attack reveal their kids' 'legacy' 

James Keivom/NY Daily News via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Five years ago in October Marina Krims returned home to her Upper West Side Manhattan apartment to find two of her children Lulu, 6, and Leo, 2, stabbed to death in the bathtub.

Their nanny Yoselyn Ortega, now 56, was charged in the savagery that took place on the night of Oct. 25, 2012 inside the family's West 75th Street apartment.

When Marina came back from a swimming lesson with her daughter Nessie, Ortega met her there, knife in hand. Ortega began to cut herself, according to contemporaneous reports and was soon hospitalized for self-inflicted wounds.

Ortega's trial for the alleged murder of Lulu and Leo is set to begin with jury selection on Monday. She has pleaded not guilty.

But before the trial gets underway, Kevin and Marina Krim have come forward to share the legacy of their slain progeny.

In a video posted on the couples' Facebook page on Friday, Kevin, a former CNBC executive, stood in an apartment with their kids milling about and announced that "after five long years the criminal trial in our case is finally getting started."

"And over the next few months the story of Lulu and Leo and our whole family will be painfully in the news again," he said.

Kevin said he knows that the upcoming trial "will be very hard for us and for a lot of you."

His wife Marina stared bravely at the camera to acknowledge that their family is set to endure a "really horrible time."

But rather than mull over the negatives, Marina instead said she and her husband hope to "focus on the positive and the goodness that's come out of this."

They want to carry on the spirit and joy of their children and remember their fondness for art.

Already, the Krims have managed to channel the horror they suffered to creative learning through their philanthropy which incorporates art into various school curriculums.

The Lulu & Leo Fund, according to its website, was established to bring necessary healing and remind so many "that art and nature played a critical role in their short, beautiful lives" and also how it has affected their surviving daughter, Nessie.

After returning on a cross-country trip with Nessie in an RV, the couple added Felix and Linus to their family.

Like their sister, the boys also made cameos in the video to plug the nonprofit's principles.

"This is the legacy of Lulu and Leo," Marina said. "This is what matters."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Feb172018

Thousands grieve for slain Chicago police commander

WLS-TV(CHICAGO) -- Thousands of people gathered Saturday morning to mourn a decorated Chicago police officer, who was gunned down while on duty this week.

A line of mourners wrapped around the street as they waited to enter the Nativity of Our Lord Church for the funeral service of Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer, according to ABC station WLS-TV. Bauer's wife, Erin, and their 13-year-old daughter, Grace, stood on the church steps to greet family, friends and law enforcement officers as they went inside.

Grade did the first reading for her father's funeral Mass. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, police Capt. Mel Roman as well as John Escalante, who retired from the department in 2016 and is now the police chief at Northeastern Illinois University, were among those who delivered remarks about the fallen officer.

"Chicago is blessed to have known and been served by Paul Bauer," Emanuel said. "Chicago will never forget his grace and his goodness."

After the funeral mass, a sea of officers in blue as well as local citizens lined the procession route from Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood to the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in honor of the slain officer and the loved ones he leaves behind.

Bauer was shot and killed after engaging with a suspect near the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago on Tuesday.

There was a report of a suspicious person spotted by a police officer who was patrolling the grounds by the Thompson Center, otherwise referred to as the State of Illinois Building, which has businesses on the first floor and a food court on the floor below. An officer made initial contact with the suspect but the person fled, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told a press conference Tuesday.

Bauer spotted the suspect and engaged him, but was shot multiple times, Johnson said.

The suspect, 44-year-old Shomari Legghette of South Side Chicago, was later arrested. A weapon was recovered at the scene.

Legghette, a convicted felon, faces felony charges in the brazen shooting death, including first-degree murder and armed violence. He is being held without bond.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Feb172018

Families, friends gather as more loved ones are laid to rest in wake of school shooting

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- A 17-year-old boy whose last social media post said his girlfriend was "a greater blessing than I could ever imagine" will be mourned at a funeral on Saturday, the latest service for the 17 people killed in a shooting massacre at a Florida high school.

Joaquin Oliver was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student allegedly opened fire Wednesday. It's the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since the 2012 rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which killed 26.

Oliver was born in Venezuela and became a U.S. citizen in January 2017, according to ABC affiliate WPLG-TV. He was an avid fan of Venezuela's national soccer team, American football, basketball, Florida State University and R&B artist Frank Ocean.

His last social media post was dedicated to his girlfriend, according to WPLG-TV.

His funeral will take place Saturday afternoon.

Funeral services have already been held for some other victims. The service for Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, who played soccer, was held in North Lauderdale on Friday morning. The funeral for Meadow Pollack, 18, a college-bound senior, took place in Parkland on Friday afternoon.

There have been multiple community vigils and religious services in Broward County in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting.

Life Fellowship Church in Coral Springs organized a prayer and peace walk around the community Saturday morning. Alexander-Levitt Funerals and Cremations in Tamarac will host a candlelight vigil Saturday evening. First United Methodist Church in Coral Springs will hold prayer services Sunday morning. And Tomorrow's Rainbow, a nonprofit in Coconut Creek, is hosting candlelight vigils and offering bereavement counselors every night through March 10 from 6-7:30 p.m. ET.

Investigators believe approximately 150 shots were fired during Wednesday's attack, a law enforcement source told ABC News. In addition to the 17 killed, more than a dozen people were injured. As of Saturday, the hospitals have one patient in critical condition and four patients in fair condition.

The Broward Education Foundation, which raises money for the public school system, has set up an official page on crowdfunding site GoFundMe for those wanting to make monetary donations to the affected individuals and families. There are other pages set up for specific victims and their loved ones.

GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne said they have removed campaigns with no direct connection to the victims in the shooting or their families.

"We guarantee the money raised by those campaigns will be transferred to the right person," Whithorne told ABC News. "We will continue to monitor the platform and will stay in close touch with Florida officials."

The alleged gunman in Wednesday's rampage, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, has been arrested and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He is being held in a Broward County jail without bond.

Cruz had been expelled from the high school last year for unspecified disciplinary reasons, authorities said. He allegedly used an AR-15-style rifle that he legally purchased within the past year from a federally licensed dealer, law enforcement officials told ABC News.

Meanwhile, more than 100 protesters stood outside the National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, on Friday night, demanding action on gun control following the school shooting in Florida. Among the crowd of demonstrators were friends of some of the students and faculty members who were killed at Marjory Stoneman; Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va.; and relatives of those fatally shot at Virginia Tech in 2007.

"Children are dead because of you," Connolly said of the NRA, according to ABC affiliate WJLA-TV.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Feb172018

What has changed in the six months since the Charlottesville rally

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- A violent mix of white supremacists, counterprotesters and law enforcement in riot gear took over the small Virginia town of Charlottesville six months ago, raising questions about race and racism to the surface and exposing a number of societal divisions.

“I think, for a lot of Americans, they did not realize that there are so many of these people until they saw Charlottesville,” said Heidi Beirich, the director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The rally, initially launched by white nationalist group Unite the Right, started on Friday, Aug. 11 and carried into the next day, with the imagery sparking questions and concerns nationwide.

“Fringe elements of society were rising up and getting emboldened, and so it all sort of came together in Charlottesville. And the lasting images that people have of young white men talking about how ‘The Jews will not replace us,’ the violence, the sheer volume of extremists that showed up were a wake-up call to other Americans across the country,” said Oren Segal, the director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)'s Center on Extremism.

Reverberations from the rally and ensuing violence -- including a woman who was deliberately mowed down -- continued for months, including online.

In the months since the violence, social media companies and Internet-based operations worked to curtail their platforms' use by individuals associated with white supremacist or other hate groups, experts said.

“I’ve heard other officials at technology companies say Charlottesville was so shocking and so in-your-face that they realized they didn’t want to play a role in furthering it,” Beirich told ABC News.

One example came days after a motorist fatally rammed counterprotester Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, when Google notified neo-Nazi news website The Daily Stormer that they had to find a new web server.

Social media sites, including Twitter, took similar actions. Twitter adjusted its guidelines in December and removed individuals whose content did not meet the company's guidelines.

This led to the banning of a number of individuals associated with neo-Nazi or white supremacist groups, according to the ADL.

Segal said the moves by tech companies, as well as other issues such as infighting among the members of the hate groups, makes it “not surprising that the movement is not as coherent as they'd hope it would be.”

“The harmony in the movement was pretty short-lived,” he said.

“But they are still around, and they are still trying to mainstream their message. They're still trying to find ways to amplify their narratives and their voices,” he said.

While President Donald Trump’s immediate reaction to the violence in Charlottesville -- which, at first, was no reaction at all, followed by a statement that included a condemnation of the violence “on both sides” of the protests -- was a source of criticism for the administration, Trump’s statements were not the only ones to come out of it.

In September, Congress passed a joint resolution "condemning the violence and domestic terrorist attack" in Charlottesville, which was later signed by Trump. The resolution rejected white nationalists, members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups.

“My hope is that the resolution will stand the test of time,” Beirich said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Feb172018

Snow bears down on Northeast, with record warmth to follow

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A pair of disturbances taking shape in the south-central U.S. will come together during the day Saturday and accelerate toward the Northeast, bringing a quick hit of snow to major I-95 cities from Philadelphia to Boston.

Winter storm warnings have been issued for parts of New Jersey through southern Massachusetts, including Manhattan and the Bronx. Coastal areas such as Staten Island, Brooklyn, parts of Queens, Long Island and Cape Cod have a winter storm watch due to the uncertainty of how much warm air will inhibit snowfall accumulation.

The storm begins to take shape later Saturday, with snow arriving into parts of the Northeast in the early evening hours. The rapid precision mesoscale (RPM) forecast model is currently showing snow falling in Philadelphia and New York City as early as 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The storm is moving quickly though, with only about six to 10 hours of accumulating snowfall expected.

Right now, the highest uncertainty is along the coast from New Jersey to Massachusetts. The storm is currently forecast to track close to shore and keep those areas too warm to see rapidly accumulating snow.

By sunrise on Sunday, the storm is already moving offshore, with only a few snow showers remaining in parts of New England.

The current snowfall forecast for much of the I-95 corridor area from Philadelphia to Boston is generally 2 to 5 inches of snow. North and west of the major cities have the best chance for exceeding and meeting the higher end of that snowfall range. Areas southeast of the major cities will see the lower end of that range.

Ultimately, the snowfall accumulation will be determined by the exact track of the storm, relatively warm ground temperatures and near-freezing temperatures. If the storm nudges just a little closer to the coast than the present forecast, the snow will not accumulate in the I-95 corridor. If the storm nudges just a little south and east, the heftier snows could accumulate in New York City as well as many coastal regions.

Warm weather on the way

Whatever snow does fall will not be sticking around. Temperatures are going to quickly warm up this week across the eastern U.S.

On Tuesday, daily records are possible across much of the eastern U.S., with many locations all the way into the mid-Atlantic reaching 70 degrees or higher.

Northwest also seeing snow

A potent winter storm is also currently heading into the Northwest. It will bring heavy rain along the Northwest coast, and heavy snow to the hills and mountains of the northwest and northern Rockies.

In Washington, winds up to 50 mph or higher are expected Saturday. Heavy mountain snow, including the mountain passes in the Cascades, are expected through Sunday. Totals will range up to 3 feet in some parts of Washington by Sunday afternoon.

The storm will bring a swath of snow to the northern Rockies. Blizzard-like conditions are expected in parts of Idaho and Monday by Saturday night and Sunday.

Some of the snow will also break off and head toward the Northern Plains, including Rapid City, South Dakota, and Duluth, Minnesota. The potential for snow will bring possibly dangerous travel on Sunday from Wyoming to Minnesota.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Feb172018

Hundreds protest outside NRA headquarters following Florida school shooting

iStock/Thinkstock(FAIRFAX, Va.) -- More than 100 protesters stood outside the National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, on Friday night demanding action on gun control in the wake of Wednesday's school shooting in Florida.

Among the attendees were friends of some of the 17 students and teachers who were killed in Parkland, Florida; Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va.; and relatives of those shot and killed at Virginia Tech in 2007.

"Children are dead because of you," Connolly said of the NRA, in comments reported by ABC's Washington, D.C. affiliate WJLA-TV.

One of the attendees at the vigil was the friend of Nicholas Dworet, a 17-year-old senior at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School who was killed in Wednesday's shooting. Dworet had committed to the University of Indianapolis swim team.

"I'm burying my best friend next week," the teen, who did not want to be identified, told WJLA-TV. "I cheered with these people, and I cheered with one of these girls. Now I have to bury my best friend who is committed to the University of Indianapolis for swimming. I grew up with him."

Peter Reed, whose daughter Mary was among the 32 people killed in a shooting at Virginia Tech in April 2007, said the shooting on Wednesday brought back horrible memories.

"It very quickly takes us back to where we were in April of 2007. It's numbing. It's maddening," Read told WJLA-TV.

The NRA, a regular financial backer of Republican politicians, has not commented on Wednesday's deadly shooting. The NRA has defended sales of the AR-15, the semi-automatic weapon used in Parkland and a number of other mass shootings.

The NRA said the AR-15 has "soared in popularity" because it is "customizable, adaptable, reliable and accurate" and "can be used in sport shooting, hunting and self-defense situations."

Flags were flying at half-staff outside NRA headquarters on Friday.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Feb172018

Five killed as semitrailer plows into cars in fiery crash on California freeway

KABC-TV(RIALTO, Calif.) -- Five people are dead after the driver of a tractor-trailer lost control on the 10 freeway in Railto, California, plowed through the median and into oncoming vehicles on the other side of the road.

Authorities told Los Angeles ABC station KABC-TV that at least five people were killed in the fiery accident that shut down the freeway on both sides for hours. In addition to the semi, at least three other vehicles were involved in the crash, including a motorcycle.

Video and photos shot by onlookers showed the trailer on its side and consumed by flames. All that remained by the evening were the burned-out hulks of the trailer and several other vehicles.

The truck lost control while driving down the westbound side and plowed into traffic coming toward the driver on the eastbound side. The eastbound lanes were expected to be closed until 3 a.m., KABC-TV reported.

KABC said it was still unclear what caused the trailer to lose control.

Rialto, California, is about an hour east of Los Angeles.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb162018

High school shooting suspect would plead guilty to avoid death penalty: Defense attorney 

Broward County Sheriff(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- A lawyer for Nikolas Cruz, the young man accused of gunning down 17 people at a Florida high school, told ABC News he is willing to have his client plead guilty immediately in return for the prosecution agreeing to take the death penalty off the table.

Cruz, 19, would instead have a life sentence, said Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein.

Finkelstein told ABC News in a detailed phone interview that his decision is based on the reality that the facts are not in question and that Cruz’s alleged crimes occurred after an apparent series of breakdowns of systems like law enforcement, social services and education.

Finkelstein said he has not yet notified prosecutors of his offer but plans to this weekend.

A trial would serve no purpose but to prolong the inevitable instead of allowing the community to start the process of healing, Finkelstein said.

"We have an opportunity to begin to put this behind us, to help the victims’ families as much as we can and begin to heal as a community,” Finkelstein said.

“It comes down to one simple question: Does he live or does he die?” Finkelstein said.

Finkelstein said an insanity plea "is not a viable path."

"Even if somebody is severely insane, when there’s mass destruction and mass carnage, not guilty by insanity" is extremely rare, he said.

"This is not a case for lawyer games. Everybody knows what happened. There’s no question about whether he committed this act. And there’s no question of whether this is the most horrific act ever in Broward County -- it is," he said.

Finkelstein also pointed the blame at others.

"The school system failed. The mental health system failed. DCF [The Department of Children and Families], our social service agencies failed. Law enforcement failed because every red flag was present. And the FBI apparently failed," he said. "And the security measures for somebody to buy guns failed. Every single system was ignorant or willfully blind.

"It seems to me that this kid was screaming for help in every which way -- he was failed," Finkelstein said, adding, "That’s not an excuse in any way.”

Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Investigators believe approximately 150 shots were fired, a law enforcement source told ABC News.

Cruz -- a former student at the school -- slipped away from the campus after the shooting by blending in with other students who were trying to escape, police said. After a tense manhunt, he was apprehended.

The FBI said Friday that proper protocol was not followed in following up on a tip about Cruz.

A person close to Cruz called an FBI tip line on Jan. 5 with information about Cruz's desire to kill people, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting, according to an FBI statement.

“We have determined that these protocols were not followed for the information received by the PAL on January 5. The information was not provided to the Miami field office, and no further investigation was conducted at that time,” the FBI said in a statement on Friday.

FBI director Christopher Wray said the agency is still investigating and regrets any additional pain the information could cause to victims.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb162018

Florida governor calls on FBI director to resign after flub on school shooting tip

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI says proper protocol was not followed in following up on a tip about Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the mass shooting at a South Florida high school on Wednesday that left 17 people dead. A law enforcement source told ABC News that investigators believe approximately 150 shots were fired in the incident.

A person close to Cruz called an FBI tip line on Jan. 5 with information about Cruz's desire to kill people, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting, according to an FBI statement.

“We have determined that these protocols were not followed for the information received by the PAL on January 5. The information was not provided to the Miami field office, and no further investigation was conducted at that time,” the FBI said in a statement Friday.

FBI director Christopher Wray said the agency is still investigating and regrets any additional pain the information could cause to victims.

“I am committed to getting to the bottom of what happened in this particular matter, as well as reviewing our processes for responding to information that we receive from the public. It’s up to all Americans to be vigilant, and when members of the public contact us with concerns, we must act properly and quickly," Wray said in the statement.

The Broward Sheriff's Office received "20 calls for service over the last few years" regarding Cruz, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference on Friday.

"We will continue to follow up as we do with any investigation. We want to try to find out why this killer did what he did, what we can learn from it and how we can keep our kids safe moving forward. So everyone of those calls to service will be looked at and scrutinized," Israel said.

He warned, "If we find out like in any investigation that one of our deputies or call-takers could have done something better or was remiss, I'll handle it accordingly."

Israel added, "A call for service simply means that our dispatch center received a call. Doesn't mean we went out on something. Could have been a telephonic contact with a deputy, a person in another state or we might have gone out there."

In a statement, Florida Gov. Rick Scott called on the FBI director to resign. “The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable," he said. “... We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act. ‘See something, say something’ is an incredibly important tool and people must have confidence in the follow through from law enforcement. The FBI director needs to resign.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also slammed the FBI, saying the agency "utterly failed the families of 17 innocent souls."

“The fact that the FBI is investigating this failure is not enough," Rubio said in a statement. "Both the House and Senate need to immediately initiate their own investigations into the FBI’s protocols for ensuring tips from the public about potential killers are followed through."

In the wake of the news, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a review of the process at the Justice Department and FBI "to ensure that we reach the highest level of prompt and effective response to indications of potential violence that come to us."

“We will make this a top priority. It has never been more important to encourage every person in every community to spot the warning signs and alert law enforcement," he said in a statement. Do not assume someone else will step up -- all of us must be vigilant. Our children's lives depend on it.”

Robert Lasky, the FBI special agent in charge of the Miami division, said Friday the FBI regrets "any additional pain that this has caused."

"The men and women that work in the Miami field office are part of this community. We walk the same streets. Our children attend the same schools to include Stoneman Douglas," Lasky said. "We worship in the same places. We are part of this community. As this community hurts, so do we."

Israel added that the "only one to blame for this incident is the killer himself."

Hannah Carbocci, a 17-year-old junior, told ABC affiliate WPLG-TV that she was in a first-floor classroom when shots rang out.

Carbocci said the gunman "shot through the door and the glass shattered. I was under my teacher's desk so I was really hoping that I would be OK. Not knowing if my classmates would be OK or not really scared me. "   "We had four to six people injured in our classroom, and two of them have been confirmed that they passed away," she said. "It was a horrible experience, the sounds that you hear, the sights that you see. When you’re walking out of the building you see people in the hallways laying there dead that you know, that you went to classes with, and you went to school with, and you saw them every single day.

"Once I was out of the building I knew I was OK, but I kicked my shoes off and I ran as fast as I could," she said. "My dad picked me up on the side of the road. He works for the Broward Sheriff's Office. I broke down in tears when I saw him."

Cruz was arrested after the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Cruz -- a former student there -- slipped away from the campus by blending in with other students who were trying to escape, police said. After a tense manhunt, he was apprehended.

He briefly appeared in court Thursday and was held on no bond.

Brody Speno, a neighbor who spent nearly a decade living a few doors down from Cruz, told ABC News that the suspected shooter was "aggressive, crazy weird, psycho."

Speno said he remembers one day when Cruz suddenly "cornered a squirrel and was pegging it with rocks trying to kill it."

Another neighbor, Malcolm Roxburgh, said Cruz would attack pets.

He called Cruz a "strange character" who always stood out from other teenagers in the neighborhood.

Roxburgh's most vivid memory of Cruz is his roaming the streets. Even in South Florida's sweltering heat, Roxburgh said, Cruz occasionally walked around in a camouflage jacket.

Public defender Melisa McNeill, who appeared with Cruz in court Thursday, called him a "broken child."

"My children they go to school in this community and I feel horrible for these families," McNeill said, adding, "and Mr. Cruz feels that pain."

The firearm used is a Smith & Wesson M&P 15, a variant of the popular AR-15 rifle. Law enforcement sources said the suspect bought the rifle himself nearly a year ago and investigators believe no laws were broken in the purchase or sale of the weapon.

The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is looking at whether Cruz had any help or accomplices.

“Our goal is to figure out, how did this gun get into his hands?” ATF Special Agent in Charge Peter Forcelli told ABC News.

Investigators are continuing to look into Cruz’s mental health history. Law enforcement sources told ABC News that Cruz told investigators he had been hearing voices in his head that directed him to conduct the attack.

Under federal law, any person who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or “committed to a mental institution” is prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing any firearm or ammunition punishable by a $250,000 and/or 10 years in prison. That adjudication must be done by a court, board, commission or other lawful authority that determines if a person as a result of “subnormal intelligence, mental illness, incompetency, condition or disease” is a danger to himself or others, lacks mental capacity to conduct their own affairs, are found insane by a court in a criminal case, or incompetent to stand trial because they lack mental responsibility.

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