Police officers are seen near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as law enforcement officials continue their work investigating the 17 people who were killed at the school on February 17, 2018 in Parkland, Florida.
Accused Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz’s closest living family member is his younger brother, Zachary Cruz, who was allegedly taken to a mental health facility for treatment shortly after the massacre.
Adopted together at very young ages by a Florida couple, the two brothers were orphaned when both of their adopted parents died years apart. Nikolas Cruz is accused of going on the rampage at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and murdering 17 students and staff members in what was the nation’s third deadliest school shooting in its history.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nikolas Cruz’s Brother Was Sent to a Mental Health Facility for Treatment, Reports Say
Broward Sheriff/InstagramNikolas Jacob Cruz.
Although the newspaper did not name Cruz’s brother in the report, The Palm Beach Post reported that “Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies, assisting their Broward County counterparts, removed a person at midday from the mobile home to a mental health facility for treatment.” The newspaper reported that this person was the brother of Nikolas Cruz.
The newspaper did not name Zachary Cruz because he is a juvenile; however, it’s widely known that Nikolas Cruz only has one brother, and his name is Zachary Cruz. The New York Daily News reported that Zachary Cruz will turn 18 next week and “was involuntarily removed from his home on Friday under what is commonly known as the Baker Act.”
2. Zachary & Nikolas Cruz Were Adopted Together at Birth by a Florida Couple
Legacy.comNikolas Cruz is held by his mother, Lynda Cruz, in a photo from her obituary
Zachary and Nikolas Cruz are biological brothers. Both brothers were “adopted at birth by an older couple,” Lynda and Roger Cruz. Lynda Cruz died at age 68 in November 2017 from pneumonia. According to The Palm Beach Post, Roger Cruz died 13 years ago.
Roger Cruz died from a heart attack, according to The Washington Post. The couple moved to Florida from New York, and Lynda Cruz was a homemaker while Roger lived in advertising, The Miami Herald reports.
After Roger died, Lynda focused on the boys, their aunt, Barbara Kumbatovich said. “She devoted a lot to their activities,” Kumbatovich told Newsday. “She had concerns that they weren’t getting the right treatment. The younger son seemed to adjust better.”
3. The Brothers Have Different Fathers
According to The Washington Post, the brothers do not share both parents. “Cruz was adopted at age 2 along with his 2-month-old brother, Zachary…Nikolas and Zachary shared a biological mother but have different fathers,” The Post reported.
4. Zachary was Described as Quieter Than His Older Brother
According to The Washington Post, those who knew the brothers described Zachary as the quiet brother “and content to follow Nikolas’s lead,” whereas Nikolas was “moody, prone to an explosive temper.”
Whereas there are many stories with red flags about Nikolas’ behavior (including disturbing social media posts that appear to show him brandishing guns), residents told The Miami Herald that the same was not true of Zachary, who “was quiet and caused no problems, often skateboarding around the neighborhood.” The family lived in a home worth almost $600,000, according to the newspaper.
Cruz was expelled from the Parkland school. However, on the day of the carnage, he took an Uber to the school, strolled inside, and opened fire on several floor, authorities alleged in court documents. He pulled a fire alarm and tossed smoke grenades, killing staff and students.
5. The Brothers Lived in a Mobile Home Before Nikolas Cruz Left
After Lynda Cruz died, Cruz and Zachary “lived with a family friend in Palm Beach County but Cruz was said to be unhappy,” according to the Independent. After their mother died, the brothers moved into Rocxanne Deschamps’ mobile home in Lantana in November.
Nikolas Cruz then moved in with the family of a friend in Pompano Beach. Deschamps “told him he couldn’t have his gun inside her house,” reports UK Daily Mail. The Pompano Beach family let him keep the gun in a locked cabinet although he had the key, their lawyer said.