Nikolas Cruz, facing 17 charges of premeditated murder in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, appears in court for a status hearing in Fort Lauderdale.
Nikolas Cruz, facing 17 charges of premeditated murder in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, appears in court for a status hearing in Fort Lauderdale. ( REUTERS/Mike Stocker/Pool)

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Accused school shooter Nikolas Cruz reportedly told authorities "demons" made him open fire in his alma mater.

ABC news reports Cruz told investigators that voices in his head told him how to conduct the attack where he allegedly murdered 17 students in teachers in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

One source who knew the suspect say he was "depressed" after his adoptive mother's death, while another described him as a weapons enthusiast and "psycho."

"I know she had been having some issues with them, especially the older one. He was being a problem. I know he did have some issues, and he may have been taking medication. [He] did have some kind of emotional problems or difficulties," family member Barbara Kumbatovich told the Sun Sentinel. "[Lynda] kept a really close handle on both boys. They were not major issues, as far as I know, just things teenagers do like not coming home on time, maybe being disrespectful."

Cruz's public defender told Local News 10 the defendant will plead guilty immediately in exchange for a state promise to not seek the death penalty.

Among the deceased are several heroes who shielded students and fellow classmates from the spray of bullets.

Assistant football coach Aaron Feis reportedly covered students with his own body, absorbing the shots meant for them.

"It is with Great sadness that our Football Family has learned about the death of Aaron Feis. He was our Assistant Football Coach and security guard," Marjory Stoneman football said on Twitter. "He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot. He died a hero, and he will forever be in our hearts and memories."

Geography teacher Scott Beigel let students into his classroom while Cruz was in the hallway.

"He unlocked the door and let us in. I thought he was behind me, but he wasn't," student Kelsey Friend says of Beigel. "When he opened the door, he had to relock it so that we could stay safe, but he didn't get the chance."

One janitor stopped students from running toward the shooter.

"Thank God for a janitor that stopped us," student David Hogg says. "She saved my life and she saved, easily, 40 others there."

For more heroes, click here and here.

People of faith responded with both prayers and actions.

Cindy Jacobs charged intercessors to wage spiritual warfare against the principalities taking roots in schools, and the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team deployed chaplains to the scene immediately following the shooting.

"Our hearts break for the parents who sent their children to school, and are now with them in the hospital, or living a parent's worst nightmare," says Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. "So many lives have been forever changed by this evil act. As we pray for the students, faculty and families, we know God can bring hope and comfort, in Jesus Christ, in the darkest hours."

The Parkland response is the fifth deployment of the year for the crisis-trained chaplains. Every one of the deployments in 2018 has been gun-related. The team responded to Benton, Ky., in January after a shooter killed two students and injured 18 more in a school shooting.

 

Jessilyn Justice @jessilynjustice is the director of online news for Charisma.

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