The suspect in the Parkland, Florida school shooting blamed the massacre on the voice of a “demon” that told him to buy a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle and burn, kill and destroy, according to a transcript of his police interrogation released on Monday.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, faces 17 counts of murder for allegedly shooting 17 people to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which he once attended, in February. Following his arrest, he was interrogated by Broward County Det. John Curcio, according to the transcript. Cruz waived his rights and spoke to Curcio for more than 11 hours, before asking for an attorney.
During the interrogation, Cruz also revealed that, about a week before the killings at the school, he had thought about going to a public park and shooting people there.
Cruz typically answered Curcio’s questions in short sentences, or by nodding yes or no, according to the transcript. At times, Cruz spoke so low that Curcio told him to speak up. When Curcio left the room, leaving Cruz alone, Cruz cursed himself out loud, repeatedly asked himself “Why didn’t he kill me?” and said “I want to die” over and over again.
What Cruz told police during the interrogation before he asked for an attorney could become crucial evidence either for or against Cruz, should he present an insanity defense. It could also serve as a mitigating factor if he is convicted and faces the death penalty.
Cruz’s attorneys have said that he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence without the possibility of parole, according to the Associated Press.
Curcio did not start the interrogation by reading Cruz his rights under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona. Instead, he started by building a rapport with Cruz by asking about background or pedigree information, such as where Cruz lived and with whom prior to the shooting. Such questions --- not intended to elicit incriminating information --- have been held by the Supreme Court not to require Miranda warnings.
At one point, Curcio leaves the room to obtain water and Cruz said out loud to himself “Kill me. Just f---ing kill me,” according to the transcript.
When Curcio returned, he asked Cruz about his life and encouraged him to speak: "I can only hear from you what was going on with you.” That’s when Curcio first read Cruz his Miranda rights and began questioning him about the substance of the crimes.
Large portions of the transcript are redacted from that point forward, presumably concealing Cruz’s statements about the shootings themselves.
But plenty of other information is revealed, including Cruz discussing the deaths of his parents, his killing of animals, his fascination with guns, a suicide attempt, his penchant for self-harm by cutting himself and the voice inside his head.
The voice, Cruz told Curcio, was a “demon.” It first appeared, Cruz said, after his father’s death by heart attack when he was about 5, but grew increasingly loud and insistent after his mother’s death of pneumonia in November 2017. Cruz said the voice was male and about his age. The only person he ever told about the voice, Cruz said, was his brother, Zach.
When asked by Curcio what the voice says to him, Cruz answered: “Burn. Kill. Destroy.” When Curcio asked him “Destroy what?” Cruz replied “Anything.”
Cruz said the demon voice told him to shoot people in a public park about a week before the school shooting. Maybe it was three weeks. Cruz couldn’t remember exactly but, he said, he didn’t want to do it. Curcio asked why. “I … I don’t know,” Cruz answered.
Cruz also admitted the demon voice was not all-controlling -- it could be quelled by both Xanax and marijuana, although “marijuana does it better.”
At one point, Curcio asked, “So why didn’t you choose to get rid of the demon by doing it, anytime you heard the demon just light up a blunt?”
After Cruz invoked his right to an attorney, Curcio allowed Cruz’s 18-year-old brother, Zachary, into the interrogation room, and allowed the two to talk in his presence.
“You -- you're -- people think you’re a monster now,” Zachary Cruz said.
“A monster?” Nikolas Cruz replied.
“You’re not acting like yourself. Like, why? Like, we’ve … this is not who you are. Like, come one. Why did you do this?” Zachary asked.
“I’m sorry, dude,” Nikolas said.