Cruz briefly lived in Palm Beach County after mother died


Nikolas Cruz lived briefly with a family friend near Lantana after his mother died in November and for the past three months was living with a Broward County family.

“The family took him in. They knew his mom had died,’’ said attorney Jim Lewis, who represents the Broward County family and would not identify them.

RELATED: Parkland shooter briefly lived at a home near Lantana

“They got him a job at Dollar Tree. And they helped him continue his education. They’re totally shocked.”

The family has a 17-year-old son who is a junior at the high school and was there during the shooting, Lewis said.

“This family is heart-broken. They opened up their home to him,’’ he said, adding that the family took Cruz in about 90 days ago. “They didn’t have any clues. They didn’t see anything in this kid, that he was a danger or that he harbored any ill feelings toward the high school.”

RELATED: Lantana residence searched for link to Broward school gunman

Cruz and his biological brother Zachary were adopted at birth by an older couple. His mother Lynda died from pneumonia on Nov. 1 at the age of 68 and his father died about 13 years ago.

Right after his mother died, Cruz lived briefly with a family friend in Palm Beach County, Lewis said. After the shooting, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies Wednesday night started searching a Lantana home.

“Was he depressed because his mother died? Probably,” Lewis said.

Lewis said he was retained by the family because they were being taken to the sheriff’s office and deputies were searching their home Wednesday night.

PHOTOS: Broward Mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas high school day two

Cruz legally bought the AR-15 used in the mass shooting, Lewis told the Sun Sentinel.

“It was his gun,” Lewis told the Sun Sentinel. “The family made him keep it in a locked gun cabinet in the house, but he had a key.”

Cruz participated in Army ROTC at the high school.




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