CBSN

Couple who took in Florida school shooting suspect describes first encounter after massacre

Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where he allegedly killed 17 people, is seen on a closed circuit television screen during a bond hearing in front of Broward Judge Kim Mollica at the Broward County Courthouse on February 15, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

Pool / Getty Images

PARKLAND, Fla. -- The couple who took in the Florida school shooting suspect after his mother died says he told them he was sorry after the shooting. Speaking Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America," James and Kimberly Snead said they've only seen Nikolas Cruz once since the shooting that killed 17 when they briefly saw him at the police station.

Kimberly Snead says she yelled at him and "really wanted to strangle him more than anything." The couple says Cruz told them he was sorry.

The Sneads also said the person who's been shown to the world since the shootings isn't the person they knew when he lived with them. They said Cruz was very polite and followed all their rules.

Cruz is facing 17 counts of murder in the Wednesday afternoon shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Other agencies apparently missed a number of warning signs.

The Florida Department of Children and Families investigated Cruz in 2016, and police records show deputies went to his home more than three dozen times.

Documents obtained by CBS News paint a picture of a troubled young man and a mother who tried to prevent him from spiraling out of control, CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez reports. They also show law enforcement and social services had opportunities to intervene.

In September 2016, Cruz and his mother Lynda Cruz received a visit from Florida's Department of Children and Families after allegations of medical neglect.

The investigator learned Cruz suffered from depression, ADHD and autism, cut his arms in a Snapchat post and once plastered a racist message on his backpack. Cruz even said "he plans to go out and buy a gun." according to a DCF report.

DCF closed the investigation six weeks later after finding no evidence Cruz was being mistreated. In a statement, DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said: "Mental health services and supports were in place when this investigation closed."

"They tried to make him part of the family," Snead family attorney Jim Lewis said. "They wanted him to feel that way."

The Sneads took Cruz in after his mother's death in November.

"They had no clue that something like this was ever going to happen or they never would have taken him in and allowed him in their house," Lewis said.

Broward County Sheriff's Office records show Lynda Cruz summoned deputies to her home 39 times since 2011. In 2013, she told police Nikolas was "throwing objects across the room." The next year, she claimed he "punched a hole in the wall."

Sheriff Scott Israel told a local TV station his deputies didn't have many options.

"This isn't science fiction," Israel said. "We're not allowed to arrest on what a person thinks about on pre-crimes."

Junior Dana Craig said she told school security about threats Cruz made against her.

"He said, 'I'm gonna kill you, I'm gonna rape you, I'm gonna hurt your family,'" Dana said.

She had advised Cruz's then-girlfriend to leave him.

"When these things were being reported and when people were being targeted, they could have done more," Dana said.

The FBI apologized Friday for mishandling a tip it received in January from someone who was concerned about Cruz, his ownership of guns and his potential to carry out a school shooting.

That tip never made it to the FBI agents in the field. On average, the FBI tipline receives about 2,100 calls a day.