Didn’t see it coming

The Florida mass-murderer had a lot of problems: he was a “loner” (uh-oh, so was I!), and other kids thought he was “weird” (damn, that’s me again), and he’d also been treated in the past for mental health concerns (I was not, but there should be no stigma with getting help). Those all seem like irrelevant points to me, not associated with going on a shooting rampage, but there were other signs, which his foster family didn’t even notice.

Jim Lewis said the family is devastated and didn’t see this coming.

Maybe it’s because people don’t pay attention to the right signs. Like this one:

Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old student, said Cruz was expelled last school year after a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. She said Cruz had been abusive to his girlfriend.

“Abusive to women” — that one warrants a great big check mark in a large box at the top of the checklist. If you can’t respect one class of people, you’re probably already well-practiced at dehumanization and lack empathy.

He was in a fight so severe that he was expelled from school? There’s another sign, a propensity for violence. Unfortunately, once you’re kicked out of school, there isn’t a fallback institution where this kid’s problems could be corrected.

What else might have been a concern?

According to the family’s lawyer, who did not identify them, they knew that Cruz owned an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, but made him keep it locked up in a cabinet. He did have the key, however.

Teenagers do not need an AR-15. I can sympathize with someone enjoys target shooting or hunting, although I don’t do either, but that’s a weapon that’s not particular good for either hobby. It’s good for stroking while you have bloody power fantasies.

Mutchler recalled Cruz posting on Instagram about killing animals and said he had talked about doing target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun.

Target practice with a pellet gun? Fine. Killing animals? Bright red flashing lights and a siren going off.

“He started going after one of my friends, threatening her, and I cut him off from there,” Mutchler said.

“Threatening people” is one of those things that has been treated as perfectly fine on the internet — it’s just free speech, man, you know you can’t say anything against free speech. Unless you threaten to kill the president, of course. Then for some reason they’ll think you might be a real danger to an Important Person, so they investigate further and open a file on you. Threaten an ordinary citizen…well, suck it up, ignore it, even if he does have an AR-15 and instagrams photos of dead animals and has a history of physical abuse.

“There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus,” Gard said.

They knew.

The parents, the school administrators, his peers, they all saw it coming. They knew this kid was a powder keg ready to go off. But you don’t get to condemn guns or abuse of women as a serious warning sign — those things are OK in this culture — so they did nothing.

Well, they did nothing except abandon the kid to his own devices, where he festered and got worse. Let’s see a stronger, more active response to dangerous people than neglect.

And let’s take their damn guns away.


  1. rayceeya says

    I was a senior in highschool in 1999. I was a goth with a trenchcoat. Then Columbine. Everyone in school thought I was guaranteed to be the next one. I wasn’t obsessed with guns, or any weapons for that matter. I wasn’t threatening my classmates.

    I WAS a freaking honer student, saluditorian, who may have been really weird but I was no threat to anyone. But when Columbine went down people started saying I was next.

    1999 sucked. 2018 is off to a really bad start.

  2. oliver says

    Of course, this morning the news programs have wall-to-wall interviews with the survivors, hand-wringing by program anchors and commentators about the availability of guns, and hand-waving by politicians about a mysterious “evil” stalking the country that only a focus on god and mental health can fix. And of course we are awash in that most useful of remedies, thoughts and prayers by everybody.
    I have, regretfully, come to an acceptance that after all the outrage and finger pointing subsides, absolutely nothing will change. The apparent fact of the matter is that as a culture we have made a pact with the devil when it comes to firearms. In exchange for an interpretation of the second amendment that allows almost unrestrained “keeping and bearing of arms” (never mind the bit about how that is supposed to be in the service of a well-regulated militia), we will accept the death of innocents, by the dozen, and by the week or month. It is the price we are willing to pay, and there is no prospect of change in the foreseeable future. I am reminded of The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas, by the recently deceased Ursula LeGuin. We live in Omelas, all of us. And there are way too many who believe our well-being is dependent on the thing that makes so many others suffer.

  3. Saad says

    School massacres is now a proud American tradition with proponents at all levels of government and backed by a very powerful industry, which itself has vigorous support at all levels of government. School shootings are in gun companies’ and politicians’ best interests.

    We’ll need to get used to it and stop being outraged.

  4. Dunc says

    We’ll need to get used to it and stop being outraged.

    Given that nobody seems to give a damn that an average of 3 women are killed every day by their current or former partners, I don’t imagine that should take too long.

  5. Gregory Greenwood says

    Oliver @ 2;

    I have, regretfully, come to an acceptance that after all the outrage and finger pointing subsides, absolutely nothing will change. The apparent fact of the matter is that as a culture we have made a pact with the devil when it comes to firearms. In exchange for an interpretation of the second amendment that allows almost unrestrained “keeping and bearing of arms” (never mind the bit about how that is supposed to be in the service of a well-regulated militia), we will accept the death of innocents, by the dozen, and by the week or month. It is the price we are willing to pay, and there is no prospect of change in the foreseeable future.

    Exactly – it is the same, sad pattern we have seen a thousand times before. There will be a brief scrabble to find anything else to focus on other than the gun fetish which infects US society as the trigger. They will cycle through the usual excuses – not enough god, too much drugs, a nebulous mental illness never specifically defined – and will be sure to silence anyone who does identify the horrifyingly ready availability of guns (that put an automatic, military type weapon in the hands of an angry kid with a history of violence) as the true root of the problem, almost certainly by claiming that such people are ‘playing politics at a time of tragedy’, as if it is somehow improper to discuss the causes of mass death at a time when the public’s attention is actually focused on the issue.

    The campaign of obfuscation will continue until the mayfly attention span of the public moves on to other things, and then everything will return to business as usual, with the gun-fondlers safely able to continue cradling their high fire rate security blankets/power fantasy props undisturbed by the cost in blood, perhaps with a few high profile exemplars of that creed making florid statements about no one talking their guns except ‘from their cold, dead hands’ from time to time, as if their ballistic passifier actually does anything meaningful to protect their freedoms from a hypothetical tyrannical government. The odd barely trained, angry and resentful individual with an AR-15 is very effective at slaughtering defenceless innocents, but won’t do much to stop an oppressive regime that can call on main battle tanks, helicopter gunships, and all the other paraphernalia of full scale war.

    And there we have it; in the name of a fantasy of being John bloody Wayne on the wild frontier, one man and his gun against the world, the power brokers of US society have decreed that a few thousand gunshot deaths a year is an acceptable price to pay, and millions of ordinary people have been gulled by that rationale. Proof, if further proof were even necessary at this point, that humanity seems to be afflicted with an innate drive toward its own destruction.

  6. rietpluim says

    Well fukkit. Isn’t it amazing how refugees, immigrants, people with mental issues, Antifa and many more are considered potentially violent, but not the people who’ve actually been violent?

    That is some seriously nasty fucked-up culture you’re living in.

  7. Dunc says

    Proof, if further proof were even necessary at this point, that humanity seems to be afflicted with an innate drive toward its own destruction.

    Hey, don’t drag the rest of us into your problems!

  8. says

    Semi-automatic rifles have exactly two practical uses: military combat, and mass murder. There is no other purpose for their existence.

  9. A Masked Avenger says

    Abusing women and killing animals are bright red flags accompanied by screaming sirens. We ignore those because both are socially acceptable: one is either “childish squabbling” or “a private matter,” and the other is “hunting.”

    It seems too similar for comfort to the way fundies and right-wingers can’t spot wife-beaters because they literally don’t understand the role of consent — as seen in Limbaugh’s rant a while back. Consensual sex outside of marriage is bad; coerced sex inside marriage may be suboptimal, but it doesn’t break any of the rules — and maybe it wouldn’t happen if she’d just put out more.

  10. auraboy says

    The NRA will tout this as an urgent call for teachers and students to be armed at all times to combat the ‘mental health crisis’ sweeping the US. This is perfect timing for them. I’m sure many of you saw Remington going into chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings? And the ‘Trump Slump’ where in gun sales have collapsed to an historic low? School shootings don’t depress the NRA. They welcome them as free advertising.

  11. says

    One of the news sites I read reported that when the shooter was a student, he was not allowed to bring a backpack to school because they feared what he might bring in it. One of the kids who was at the school during the shooting said that once the gunshots started, everyone guessed, accurately, who the shooter was. The parents must have known too.

  12. David Marjanović says

    We’re only six weeks into the new year, and the U.S. just suffered through the eighth school shooting of 2018 to result in death or serious injury. The latest, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida, was particularly horrific, leaving 17 people dead and between 20 and 50 more injured (depending on which report you believe).

    The customary Showing of Concern has officially begun:

    [tweet by Trump: "prayers and condolences" like after a natural disaster]
    [tweet by Rubio: "that terrible day you pray never comes" like after a natural disaster]
    [tweet by Nelson: prayer, spoke to undersheriff and FBI "to ensure they have everything they need" like after a natural disaster]

    Soon, these gentlemen and their colleagues will transition into the next stage of the process, the ritual Doing of Nothing, as we await school shooting #9. And #10, #11, and #12. Oh, and don’t expect Trump to mention that the shooter—Nikolas Cruz—was fond of repeating Donald-esque rhetoric, especially anti-Muslim rhetoric, and had numerous pictures on social media showing him in a MAGA hat.”

    As the comic said “Increase the price of bullets to £5000 each”.

    FAAV THAASND DAALAS would be an acceptable compromise.

  13. Dave Grain says

    I hope no one prayed for the shot kids while they were bleeding. If they did, they should have been shanked themselves..

  14. says

    Apparently he left a comment on YouTube a while back saying “I want to be a professional school shooter.”

    How often do people tell us that “it’s just the internet” and that online comments don’t mean anything? How “It’s just a joke!” is seen as a valid defence?

  15. Ragutis says

    Well,at least Gov. Scott, Pam Bondi, and other gov’t officials complicit in this tragedy have promised to pay for funeral and hospital expenses. Isn’t that nice. Seriously, I want to barf watching this press conference. They’re all just patting themselves on the back for their response. And I better find a bucket before Trump’s address on the topic. Seriously, the only half smart Republican may be former congressman David Jolly:

    Let’s be brutally honest about what we do know. I say this as a Republican: Republicans will never do anything on gun control.

    Flip the house. Republicans are not going to do a single thing after this shooting today.

    @ davidc1: That was Chris Rock. And If I can quote another comedian, Jim Jeffries:

    ” I need it for protection. I need it to protect my family.” Really? Is that why they’re called assault rifles? I’ve never heard of these “protection rifles” you’re speaking about.

  16. Ragutis says

    I always thought he could barely speak and write English, but apparently, with the aid of a teleprompter, Trump is fluent in pablum. And ooh, he spent all of 4 minutes on the subject. Shall we compare his comments to the 14 times Obama had to address mass shootings? Live. Without a prompter. In front of the WH press corps. Fine, Obama’s a Kenyan Muslim Socialist instigating white genocide, but at least he’s human.

  17. says

    The amount of children sacrificed on the altar of the American gun lobby makes all ancient civilisations shake their head in disbelief.
    I am sorry for the victims, their families, their schoolmates and teachers.
    I am sorry for the victims to come, their families, their schoolmates and teachers.
    Because they will come.
    As somebody said, the discussion was over after Newtown.
    We had two school shootings in Germany. After the first one we took a couple of measures, the first being further regulation of guns.* Second being closer work with the students and their families, because the shooter had been able to conceal his impeding academic failure from his family.
    The second one could only happen because the father had broken the gun laws.
    Could a third one happen?
    Yes, of course. We are not 100% safe. I know what to do in case of a school shooting because that’S part of my training. But I don’t worry about it. My colleagues don’t worry about it. My students don’t worry about it.

    *I know a couple of people who have guns. They are mostly the very people who shouldn’t have any. The exception are a few target range shooters who mostly use air guns (wonderful for accuracy and low risk) or old fashioned frontloaders.

  18. whheydt says

    Some interesting stuff is coming out about Cruz. He was adopted (not something I’d consider a mark against him). His adoptive mother died relatively recently. The people he was living with–for the last 6 weeks–took him in because he had nowhere to go. His adoptive mother was taking him to counseling sessions. That stopped when she died. He had–apparently–long term issues with being bullied (at least according to him; I’d like to see reports about this from others before accepting it uncritically…it may or may not be true).

    And, as we all know now, he survived to be captured, which is kind of unusual in this sort of event.

  19. unclefrogy says

    yes Oliver, Saad and Dunc, I am getting there The details of the latest shooting tell me nothing new at all. It is becoming increasingly clear that we simply do not care to do anything but hope nothing will happen. We can put armed guards in schools, metal detectors and bag searches which of course will make someone money but nothing will change because we do not want it to.
    uncle frogy

  20. thirdmill says

    If I owned a chemical supply house, and I sold cyanide to anyone from off the street who wanted it — no questions asked, just pay your money and walk out with as much poison as you can pay for — and some of my cyanide ended up being used in a mass poisoning, I would be a defendant in so many lawsuits I’d be in bankruptcy by the end of the week. When Congress fails to do its job by regulating, tort law often steps into the gap.

    Unfortunately, Congress, at the prompting of the NRA, has closed off that area of relief as well. In the United States, you can’t sue a gun manufacturer or distributor for negligence, even if anyone with the IQ of a turnip could have predicted that a particular sale was a catastrophe waiting to happen.

    So not only is Congress not fixing the problem, Congress is actively taking steps to ensure that the problem isn’t fixed. I think that’s moved beyond mere stupidity. That’s genuine evil we’ve crossed over into.

  21. screechymonkey says

    And, shock of shocks, he was a member of a white supremacist group, the Republic of Florida.

  22. johnlee says

    Has anyone suggested praying for the victims and their families? It usually does the trick …

  23. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says


    All it takes to stop a bad guy with cyanide is a good guy with cyanide.

    A cyanide-carrying society is a polite society.

    Cyanide doesn’t kill people, people kill people.

    And so on….

  24. embraceyourinnercrone says

    Meanwhile these are the gun deaths that have happened in the US so far this year:

    People killed – 1834
    Children 0 to 11 killed or injured 69
    Children 12 to 17 killed or injured 347
    # of mass shootings 30

    What has happened and is still happening (the physical effects of being shot will be with them for the rest of their lives most likely) to these particular victims is tragic but it’s a small amount of the number of victims guns will claim again this year.

    In order to drive a car you have to take a test, you have to be licensed and renew that license periodically. You have to register your vehicles and pay the registration fee, you have to have insurance in case you hit someone…

  25. nomdeplume says

    And yet immediately (apart from the usual “thoughts and prayers” nonsense – would be good if occasionally a journalist would follow up on this “what were you thinking?” “what were you praying for?” “how often?” “did it work?” “so, if it didn’t work, what else will you do?”) came the statements, as if they were universal truths, “you can’t take guns away from people”. Why not? You take cars away from dangerous drivers, drugs from drug users, children from abusers, why are guns in a unique category?

  26. procyon says

    Let’s not forget that Trump sent his prayers and condolences to the devastated families whose children were mowed down and murdered in their school.
    He also accepted ~$21,000,000 from the NRA for his promise to never do anything about it.
    He also revoked Obama’s regulation requiring the names of those with mental problems be added to the gun registration data base.
    He also intimated in a Tweet that the survivors who knew this kid were to blame for not doing more to stop him before it happened.

  27. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Reporterd to FBI last September and they struggled finding his YouTube video and Instagram, saying they are flooded with “reports” and lack the capability to sift through the ocean of data out there to nab active people instead of “gossip”

    I. Seriously. Doubt. It. The “ocean” is correct, their “capability lack” is doubtful.