A woman who first took in Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz says she called police three times over his guns, and warned that he might use them to hurt others.
Rocxanne Deschamps, a mother-of-three in Lantana, Florida, told reporters that police told her “nothing could be done” about Cruz’s gun ownership.
Deschamps said she also warned the Snead family, with whom Cruz moved in after refusing her demand that he give up his guns, about his firearms.
The remarks came Tuesday at a press conference with Deschamps’ attorney, Gloria Allred. It’s the first time Deschamps spoke in detail about her relationship with the Cruz family and Nikolas Cruz’s brief stay at her home.
“I did everything I could to warn law enforcement about what could happen,” Deschamps said. “I wanted to protect not only my own children but also anyone else who might be at risk of being harmed. I also wanted to protect Nikolas from himself.”
Deschamps described how she and Cruz’s mother, Lynda, became neighbors and then close friends about 10 years ago. While Lynda Cruz was in the hospital, dying of pneumonia and the flu, Deschamps promised to care for Nikolas and his younger brother, Zachary.
But Deschamps told Nikolas that his guns weren’t allowed in her house, as she had three children including a 5-year-old son. Soon after the Cruz boys moved in, however, Deschamps discovered a receipt for bullets and a gun from Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Deschamps’ son, Rock, then called police. When cops arrived, they told the family they couldn’t stop Cruz from buying or having possession of a firearm.
“I told them that Nikolas was 19 years old but I felt that mentally and emotionally he was similar to a 12-year-old,” Deschamps said through a prepared statement.
Nikolas Cruz faces the death penalty for the Valentine’s Day massacre that killed 17 people and injured as many more at Parkland, Florida, high school.
The 19-year-old reportedly confessed to his deadly rampage with an AR-15 shortly after his arrest. Earlier this month, a grand jury indicted Cruz on 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree, and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder.
In wake of the mass shooting, student activists at Parkland and across America have mobilized to demand gun-control legislation. They also organized the nationwide rally, March For Our Lives, which is scheduled for March 24.
On Tuesday, Deschamps said she supported the marches this weekend and urged elected officials to stem the country’s gun violence epidemic.
Her statement came one day after 18-year-old Zachary Cruz was arrested for trespassing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where his brother embarked on a murder spree. Zachary Cruz allegedly told sheriff’s deputies that he wanted to “reflect on the school shooting and soak it in.”
Allred declined to answer reporters’ questions about why, exactly, Deschamps was holding a press conference now.
In her own prepared statement, Allred said, “Rocxanne reached out to me because she is concerned that there were many false statements made about her and she wanted to share her truth about what really happened.”
Allred declined to elaborate on the alleged false statements.
Last month, the New York Post reported Deschamps filed court papers a day after the mass shooting, seeking to take charge of Lynda Cruz’s estate. The mother did not leave a will, and it’s unclear what her estate is worth, the Post revealed.
Nikolas Cruz reportedly stood to inherit $800,000 on his 22nd birthday, and was allegedly worried that Deschamps was trying to siphon that money.
When asked whether Deschamps still sought to administer the estate, Allred said the Cruz brothers are adults and have a probate attorney. She declined to comment further about Deschamps’ role in the estate proceeding.
Allred also declined to answer whether Deschamps was the woman who phoned the Federal Bureau of Investigation over Cruz.
“We have not covered every detail that she talked to law enforcement about… but she shared everything she knew,” Allred told reporters.
In January, a woman called an FBI tip line and warned she was worried Cruz would “get into a school and just shoot the place up.” The agency said the call came from someone close to Cruz. “I know he’s—he’s going to explode,” she told the bureau, according to a transcript reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.
The caller also said Cruz had the mental capacity of a 12- or 14-year-old—a statement strikingly similar to what Deschamps told reporters Tuesday.
The unidentified tipster provided the name and contact information for the family Cruz was staying with, as well as his workplace.
Meanwhile, the FBI admitted this month that it failed to pursue tips about Cruz’s disturbing social media posts. The FBI’s deputy director told Congress in a private meeting that there were “multiple opportunities” to step in before Cruz’s bloodbath.
Agents interviewed a YouTube vlogger twice after he contacted the feds in September about a user named “nikolas cruz,” who had commented, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” But the Bureau closed the case.
Deschamps said her son, Rock, is three years older than Nikolas Cruz but that they played together when they were young. Deschamps sometimes watched the Cruz kids if their mother needed to go out. She said she also took the boys bowling, to the movies, or out on other activities.
In October 2016, Descamps stayed at Lynda Cruz’s home for three weeks with her children. She said she observed what “looked like Army guns” or “assault weapons” on the floor of Nikolas’ closet in his bedroom.
Deschamps asked Lynda Cruz if her older son could check Nikolas Cruz’s guns for bullets and put those bullets in a safe. “Lynda was afraid to do it herself because she was afraid of Nikolas,” Deschamps said.
“I was also concerned about the guns because I knew that Lynda had told me that Nikolas had put a gun to her head in the past,” she added.
That month, Lynda Cruz asked Deschamps if she would care for her boys if anything happened to her. Deschamps said she gave Lynda her word.
On Oct. 31, 2017, Lynda Cruz drove herself to the hospital. The next day, Deschamps rushed the boys to Cruz’s hospital room so they could say their goodbyes to their mother, who passed away minutes later.
When the Cruz brothers gathered their belongings, Deschamps told Nikolas Cruz he wasn’t allowed to have guns in her home, a trailer in Lantana, Florida. Cruz’s weapons were stored at one of his friend’s houses, Deschamps said.
“Nikolas lived with us for a little less than a month, and at first he was on his best behavior,” Deschamps stated.
That good behavior would soon fade, and Deschamps urged Cruz to see a therapist and a doctor for depression, especially after his mother’s death. Cruz, according to Deschamps, refused to take his medication.
Deschamps said her first 911 call came after her mother found Cruz’s receipt from Dick’s Sporting Goods.
She dialed police a second time after Deschamps’ mother saw Cruz digging a hole in the backyard. Deschamps found an empty gun box in the dirt.
“We explained to the officer that Nikolas had purchased a gun and that we were afraid of his intentions,” Deschamps said. “The police said that anyone was allowed to bury a gun and that Nikolas was allowed to do that.”
Deschamps made a third emergency call after Cruz punched holes in a wall at her house and then punched her son.
“My son, Rock, intervened and told him that he must not disrespect me and not destroy our home,” Deschamps said. “Nikolas punched Rock and Rock defended himself.” She added, “By the time police came, Nikolas had left the house.”
Deschamps then told officers she worried Cruz would return with a gun.
“I told the police about prior incidents that I knew of in which Nikolas had put a gun to his mother’s head and to his brother’s head,” Deschamps said. “I also told them about other warning signs.”
When Cruz came home, Deschamps offered an ultimatum: “I told him that it was either the gun or us and that he had to choose.”
Cruz apparently chose his weapon.
Deschamps said she promised Cruz she would be present in his life but she couldn’t have firearms in her house. She offered to find Cruz a new place to live, but he secured one on his own—the home of the Snead family.
James and Kimberly Snead, whose son was friends with Cruz, told ABC’s Good Morning America that Cruz followed their house rules “to a T.”
In the interview last month, the Sneads claimed they had no idea Cruz was plotting a mass shooting. They were also unaware of his Instagram accounts, which contained posts about guns and his penchant for killing animals. If they knew about his social media, they wouldn’t have taken him in, Kimberly Snead said.
Cruz was required to get a gun safe before moving in, James Snead said. A gun owner himself, Snead thought he was the only one with the key.
For her part, Deschamps told reporters Tuesday that she stayed in touch with Cruz and James Snead.
The day before the shooting, Deschamps said, Cruz texted her and said he was worried about his dogs.
“I don’t know how Nikolas obtained all of the guns that he had,” Deschamps said, “but given the fact that I have reason to believe he was mentally ill, he should never have been able to purchase or have those guns in his possession.”