On Friday, the Broward Sherrif’s Office (BSO) released a report detailing information about the man behind the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. While the most salacious detail—that the Parkland shooter, a fan of Donald Trump, put a “Make American Great Again” hat in the casket of his liberal mother—is making the rounds, there’s another telling detail that’s getting far less attention than it deserves.
The Miami Herald reports that Nikolas Cruz harassed a girl who lived near his workplace, obsessively texting and calling her non-stop in the weeks leading up to the February 14 shooting.
This girl was referenced in a video Cruz made on his phone right before the shooting. BSO released the video in May.
“My love for you, [redacted], will never go away,” Cruz said, topping off a droning speech about his loneliness, isolation, and anger. “I hope to see you in the afterlife.”
Cruz stored her as “Warning Love of Your Life” in his phone’s contacts. While the girl texted with Cruz, she never dated him and did not reciprocate those feelings, reporting that she was afraid of him.
The Miami Herald reports:
Five days before the shooting, she agreed to meet with Cruz at a Coral Springs Target “because he seemed depressed.”
She “stated that she insisted that Cruz meet her in a public place because she was afraid of him,” the detective wrote.
The day before the massacre, Cruz sent her a text saying he “felt like killing people.” She said she deleted the text because she was angry with his behavior. That day, he flooded her with phone calls, insisting he wanted to be her boyfriend and her Valentine the next day, Feb. 14
When she rebuffed his desires, he said he was going to see a therapist and ended a call with an ominous sounding “goodbye.”
On the day of the shooting, Cruz called her while she was taking a test at her high school. She never answered, but that didn’t stop Cruz from sending her photos of the scars on his arms.
That day, Cruz proceeded to shoot 34 people at Stoneman Douglas High School; 17 students and teachers died.
The emotional manipulation Cruz used against this girl is stomach churning, and maddeningly familiar: Men, their entitlement to women’s affection, and the violence that engulfs it all. The link between murder and domestic violence is impossible to ignore. Several mass shooters have a history of violence and harassment against women.
And there’s an entire genre of Sad Boy that emerges in the wake of violent acts on school campuses. The teen behind a mass shooting at a Santa Fe, Texas high school in May shot and killed a girl who allegedly rejected the shooter. A Connecticut boy stabbed his crush to death when she didn’t agree to go to prom with him. And there’s Elliot Rodger, who wrote a rambling, misogynistic screed before shooting and killing sorority girls at the University of California at Santa Barbara; he has since become an icon to bitter misogynists the world over.
As for Cruz, even if his love wasn’t part of his twisted rationale behind the Parkland shooting, he is now a part of this familiar cast of characters.