FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The troubled life of Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 people at his former Florida high school four years ago, began long before he was born, his lead defense lawyer told jurors on Monday, arguing that his biological mother’s heavy consumption of alcohol and drugs while pregnant irreparably harmed his developing brain. At birth, he was deprived of oxygen by an umbilical cord wrapped three times around his neck, and doctors spent the first minute after his delivery resuscitating him.
The mother who adopted him at birth was at first in denial over her young son’s mounting social, emotional and behavioral difficulties and later overwhelmed by trying to deal with his obsessions, including with guns. From the time of his first psychological evaluation when he was 3 years old to the day he carried out one of the deadliest mass school shootings in American history at the age of 19, Mr. Cruz dealt with a slew of therapists, teachers, psychiatrists, police officers and counselors who knew his problems were serious, his lawyer, Melisa McNeill, said.
Left unsaid: All failed to prevent the Feb. 14, 2018, massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.