FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz told a detective that a demon in his head — "the evil side" — told him to burn, kill and destroy, and that he thought about going to a park to kill people about a week before 17 people were gunned down at the school, according to a transcript of his interrogation released Monday.
During the more than 11 hours of questioning by Broward sheriff’s Detective John Curcio, Cruz usually answered in short sentences or nodded yes or no, speaking so softly that the detective repeatedly told him to speak up. Twice when Curcio left the room, Cruz, 19, cursed at himself and said that he wanted to die, he deserved to die.
“You’re nothin’,” Cruz told himself, followed by cursing.
The interrogation will be pored over by prosecutors and defense attorneys if Cruz attempts an insanity defense or for mitigating factors if he is convicted and faces the death penalty. Cruz’s attorneys have said he would plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life without parole.
Prosecutors released the 216-page, heavily redacted transcript of Cruz’s post-shooting statement after a judge ruled last month that nonconfession portions should be made public. The interrogation began about four hours after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and about 2½ hours after Cruz was captured as he walked down a nearby street.
The Associated Press and other media had sought the statement’s release under Florida’s broad public records laws. Cruz’s attorneys had wanted it suppressed, saying its disclosure could hinder his right to a fair trial.
Cruz’s statements about the shooting are blacked out, but the transcript is otherwise wide-ranging, dealing with the death of Cruz’s parents, his penchant for killing animals, his former girlfriend, his brother, guns, suicide attempts and, especially, the voice. He told Curcio the voice appeared after his father died about 15 years ago but got worse after his mother died of pneumonia in November.
Cruz described the voice as a male, about his age, and said the only person he ever told about it was his brother.
Curcio asked what the voice told him.
“Burn. Kill. Destroy,” Cruz responded.
“Burn, kill, destroy what?” the detective asked.
“Anything,” Cruz responded.