School shooter fixated on guns, dreamed of killing, says the therapist’s letter

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz speaks with Sentencing Mitigation Specialist Kate O’Shea, a member of the defense team, during the penalty phase of Cruz’s trial Thursday, August 25, 2022 at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, pool

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Four years before Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people at a Florida high school, therapists at another school wrote a letter to his psychiatrist saying he was gun-fixated and had dreams of killing others and joining in Being covered in blood, testimony from his criminal trial showed Thursday.

dr Brett Negin, who testified for the defense, said he never received it.

Negin and another psychiatrist who treated Cruz in the decade before the Feb. 14, 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland testified during Thursday’s abbreviated court session about the various medications he was on for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and other problems. but both said under cross-examination that they had never seen anything that would have led them to believe he was capable of mass murder.

But Negin, who treated Cruz from 2012 to August 2017, was then shown by the defense a June 2014 letter written to him by a psychiatrist and therapist at Cross Creek School, a campus where students with emotional and behavioral problems attend.

The two-page letter from Dr. Nyrma N. Ortiz and therapist Rona O’Connor Kelly on Negin states that Cruz, then 15, suffered from extreme mood swings, adding, “He’s usually very irritable and reactive.” They said he was “inappropriately” obsessed of guns and the military, defiant, verbally aggressive towards his teachers, paranoid and blaming others for the problems he causes.

“At home he continues to be aggressive and destructive with minimal provocation,” the two wrote. He destroyed a television after losing a video game, punched holes in walls, and used sharp objects to cut up the furniture and carve holes in the bathroom. He has an ax that he uses to chop down a dead tree in the backyard, but his mother said she can’t find it anymore.

Cruz shared at school, “He dreams of killing others and is covered in blood.”

The two said he was assessed for hospitalization but that never happened. They said they would write Negin so he could adjust Cruz’s medication.

Negin testified Thursday that he never received the letter and that no one called him when he didn’t reply.

Negin also testified that in 2013 he wrote a letter for Cruz’s mother supporting his voluntary hospitalization. That never happened either.

Office numbers for Ortiz have been separated. O’Connor Kelly did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.

The defense is trying to show that 23-year-old Cruz had a long history of mental health issues that were never fully addressed. He pleaded guilty to the murders in October – the trial is only to decide whether he should be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.

The defense is trying to get past the prosecution’s case, which ended earlier this month. It showed surveillance video of Cruz, then 19, mowing down students and staff with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle while stalking a three-story building for seven minutes, photos of the aftermath and a jury visit to the building.

For Cruz to receive a death sentence, the seven-member and five-member jury must be unanimous. If a jury votes for life, that will be his sentence.

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