Police were called to the home of Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in Wednesday's mass shooting at a Florida high school, on 39 occasions over a seven-year period, according to a new report.
Cruz, a resident of Broward County, Florida, had long been on the community's radar as a troubled student who showed signs of mental illness and depression, CNN reported Friday.
Little is known about Cruz—who authorities charged with killing 17 people at his former school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, this week—apart from what the media and law enforcement have been able to gauge from his social media presence and stories from acquaintances. Cruz's adoptive father died years ago, and his adoptive mother died in November after battling pneumonia, leaving him in the care of a local neighbor.
Cruz was expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last year for "disciplinary reasons," according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel
The Broward County Sheriff's Office often received numerous emergency calls to the residence that Cruz shared with his since-deceased mother.
Police were called to the house "almost every other week," said Brody Speno, a former schoolmate.
Law enforcement responded to Cruz's house 39 times over a seven-year period, according to documents obtained by CNN.
The reasons for the the calls included "domestic disturbance," "missing person," "child/elder abuse," and "mentally ill person," among others, KTLA reported.
The sheriff's office did not make details of the calls available, and most of them were marked "no written report," making it impossible to determine if they involved Cruz.
Local residents had long expressed alarm about Cruz's behavior.
Classmates and acquaintances say that Cruz would introduce himself on multiple occasions "as a school shooter." Classmates also claim that Cruz "was off"; one described him as an "evil kid" who was "always getting in trouble."
Another neighbor grew concerned about Cruz's behavior, after watching him practice tactical maneuvers and shoot at cans, bottles, and buckets with what appeared to be a BB gun repeatedly over at two-day period. The neighbor also said that Cruz pointed the gun towards his window at times, frightening the man and his wife.
Over the summer, Cruz responded to an online story about a disgruntled doctor who used an AR-15 to shoot seven people in New York by commenting, "Man, I can do so much better."
One of Cruz's public defenders, Gordon Weekes, described his client as suffering from "significant mental illness" and "trauma," but also as someone who has "difficult decisions" to make.
"He's gone through a lot in a very short period of time and that does not minimize the loss of those families, but we have to put that into the proper light," Weekes told KTLA. "He is suffering from significant mental illness and significant trauma and he has some very difficult decisions to make shortly and we're going to assist him with those decisions."
Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Since his arrest, he confessed that he began shooting students "in the hallways," according to a police report.