Voices told school gunman: ‘Burn. Kill. Destroy.’
HE was captured without resisting shortly after the February 14 massacre.
Behind him, 17 students, teachers and staff of Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas School lay dead.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, was interrogated through the night by detectives determined to get to the bottom of what is one of the United States' worst massacres.
They got more than they bargained for.
He said he had heard demons ordering him to "burn, kill, destroy."
And, at one point during the 11-hour interview, he snapped after being offered a glass of water by detective John Curcio: "I don't deserve it … just f*&^ing kill me!".
Broward County Sheriff's Office police have released a redacted transcript of the interview.
Cruz told the detective that he demons in his head. They had started tormenting him years earlier. They told him to "buy weapons, kill animals and destroy everything."
The detective asked: "What are the demons?"
Cruz replied: "The voices … The evil side".
"What does your voice say to you?" Curcio asked.
"Burn. Kill. Destroy," he replied.
STATEMENT: Read the full document here
Later in the interview, Cruz refers to having heard "evil" voices for years, starting from around the time his father died and getting worse after his mother died.
In one of the interview's more surprising revelations, Cruz said he had gone fishing at a lake before the school shooting.
While he was there, he said, he had cut himself with a knife - something he said he had been doing for years.
At several points during the interview Cruz stated he thought himself to be "stupid", and appeared to chastise himself for poor grades at school.
He also touched on an incident at a previous school where another student and he got into a fight over a girl, called Emily, whom he described as "the love of my life".
Asked whether he had other girlfriends since Emily, Cruz replied" "No, I never - there's no - I scared them."
In response to a question from Detective Curcio asking whether he had ever been treated by a doctor about "any kind of depression", Cruz replied that he had not, but later revealed he had tried to kill himself twice before.
He also admitted that he had taken "a lot" of drugs, including Xanax and marijuana, but "No one knew about it".
Cruz said he had attempted suicide two months before the attack - after his mother's death in November 2017.
Two years before that episode, he made a similar attempt.
Cruz said that he was depressed by his lack of friends and his loneliness.
When the detective asked him why he had decided to buy a semiautomatic rifle - an AR-15 - the one he allegedly used in the massacre, he replied: "Because it looks 'cool'."
Cruz bought the rifle legally.
He revealed he'd owned it for "a year of two" and that he'd tested the high-powered firearm by firing a double shot into the floor of the garage of his mother's house.
The detective asked: "It didn't bounce all over hell and creation?"
Cruz also appeared to give contradictory answers about his gun ownership during the interview, at first telling his interrogators that he possessed just the one gun, but later saying he possessed multiple firearms.
Disturbingly, he said he had purchased some of the firearms while his mother was present - although he adds she didn't accompany him into the gun shops.
He estimated he had spent $4000 on firearms and ammunition since he turned 18.
Detective Curcio later challenged Cruz about the existence of the voice in his head, saying: "You like guns, man. You wanted to be a ranger. You like guns. It's all right. There's cops like that. There's cops who got 15 million guns. You didn't buy gun because the voice said 'hey today I like mossbergs. tomorrow I like AR-15s. You like guns."
The investigator asks him why he didn't tell his mother, who had died in November, he was hearing voices.
Much of the 217-page statement is redacted. These sections largely appear to deal with the specifics of planning and conducting the attack.
At one point Cruz says "F**k dude, this is hard."
The transcript was released after the judge in charge of the case, Elizabeth Scherer, approved a motion presented by the Miami Herald and Sun Sentinel, among other media, arguing the public had a right to know its contents.
Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.
Police and prosecutors have not yet offered a motive and are investigating what they describe as "a pattern of disciplinary issues and unnerving behaviour."
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