The Florida couple who gave a home to Parkland shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz are as shocked by his alleged act of mass murder as the rest of America.
James and Kimberly Snead of Parkland took Cruz in after his adoptive mother died and housed him for three months, but told the Sun Sentinel they “didn’t know” about his dark side.
“We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know,” said Mrs. Snead, 49. “We didn’t see this side of him.”
“Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know,” James Snead, 48, asserted. “It’s as simple as that.”
The distraught husband is a decorated Army veteran and military intelligence analyst. His wife works as a neonatal intensive care nurse.
The couple took Cruz into their home last November at the urging of their son, a friend of the 19-year-old alleged shooter.
Cruz’s mother, who had adopted him, died on Nov. 1, leaving the former Stoneman Douglas High School student without parents.
Mr. Snead described Cruz as “very naïve. He wasn’t dumb, just naïve.” The young man reportedly had odd eating habits, such as putting chocolate chip cookies in his steak and cheese sandwiches. He typically went to bed at 8pm.
The Sneads also said Cruz didn’t know how to cook, use a microwave, or do laundry when he first moved in. They told the Sun Sentinel he was extremely depressed about his mother’s death.
Five days before the shooting, Kimberly Snead accompanied Cruz to a therapist’s office. He told her he was willing to receive therapy, but did not want medication.
The couple said they allowed Cruz to keep his guns in the house, but under strict rules. The firearms were stored in a locked cabinet and the teenager had to ask permission to take them out.
James Snead thought only he had the key to the cabinet, but now believes Cruz must have obtained his own copy. According to the Sneads, Cruz had only asked to take his guns out twice since November. They said “yes” once and “no” once.
The couple didn’t see the shooting suspect exhibit any signs of animal cruelty, of which he has been accused by others. The Snead family owns two dogs and seven cats.
At 2:30pm pm on Wednesday, the Sneads’ panic-stricken son called James and told him of the shooting. He and classmates had jumped a fence and escaped into a neighboring middle school.
The father told the boy to go wait for him at a local Walmart. Shortly, after, James received a call from a SWAT commander asking about Cruz’s whereabouts.
When he realized Cruz’s role in the massacre, he reportedly told the officer, “I need a police presence at my house. Go make sure my wife is OK.”
Authorities arrived at the Snead home yelling “Put your hands up.”
The couple was at Broward Sheriff’s headquarters with their son on Wednesday when they saw Cruz arrived. James had to restrain his wife from lunging at the young man.
“Really, Nik? Really?” she yelled at him.
“He said he was sorry. He apologized. He looked lost, absolutely lost,” James recalled. “And that was the last time we saw him.”
Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and may face Florida’s death penalty.