News

Junior ROTC leader, shocked that the Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was in his cadet

close


Video

FBI admits wrong tip Cruz wanted ‘people to kill’

FBI missed signs of Florida shooter was a potential threat for oneself and for others.

Although some students said they were not surprised by the alleged shooter last week in Florida shooting massacre, Jack Ciaramello was.

He said that he knew defendant Nikolas Cruz was touched and had a thing about guns, but he would never be suspected Cruz was able to this kind of cruelty.

Cruz was one of the Ciaramello the cadets in the school attaches Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

Officials have accused Cruz of the Wednesday shooting that killed 17 students and staff.

When Cruz was arrested, he also wore ROTC gear: a maroon polo shirt decorated with the corps’ crest.

In the days since the reports of Cruz’s violent, threatening behavior have flooded mainstream and social media.

Ciaramello, marjory Stoneman Douglas High senior, said he took Cruz a little strange, but do not consider cadet dangerous.

The brothers Jack, left, and James Ciaramello survived Park, Fla. massacre of last week. Jack was in the same Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps company as Nikolas Cruz, who is charged with the award of the contract 17 people at marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s day.

(AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

“He loved the hunt. He loved to fish. And me, being a man and liking that kind of stuff, you know, the army, the ROTC … it seemed normal,” the 17-year-old senior, told The Associated Press. “Of course it was not.”

As Cruz in the area of corporate E — “Echo Company” — Ciaramello tried to instill discipline, pride and a sense of camaraderie in Cruz.

The 350 or so cadets on the Parkland high school in Florida are issued, uniforms, T-shirts with the motto “WHATEVER IT TAKES” about the heart — and they are necessary to make the colors as much as possible, or risk demerits.

But last year, Cruz reportedly stopped wearing his JROTC gear. As a leader, Ciaramello took notice.

He said Cruz always had an excuse for the absence of a uniform. Worried Cruz might get kicked out of the corps, Ciaramello asked what it would take to get him to wear his gear.

His request: a Snickers candy bar.

“So I went to the store, I bought him, and the next day there on after, he came up with the uniform each day — T-shirt, uniform, everything,” Ciaramello said.

When the fire alarm sounded Wednesday, Ciaramello was on the drill field behind the school, when he heard the unmistakable sound of gunfire.

Teachers shouted at him and the other children back to the classrooms.

“No,” he said to himself. “I don’t want to be stuck in a classroom if there is an armed shooter on campus.”

As he jumped the fence and began to sprint on the road, he thought about his 14-year-old brother, James, a sergeant, the highest rank he could achieve as a freshman.

Ciaramello, fought against the urge to go back and find him.

“Even if I wanted to, there was nothing I could do. So I knew that I had to walk.”

The family had previously lived in Newtown, Connecticut — they left about three months before a former student shot and killed 26 students and teachers.

This time, the boys were both there, in the Park, for the rampage.

Nikolas Cruz made his first appearance Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (AP)

James Ciaramello was in geography class when the alarm sounded. Then came the pop. With fired both an AR-15 rifle and a 9 mm gun, that he knew the sound.

The teacher rushed the children back into the classroom. After 40 painful minutes crawled against a wall, there came a pounding on the door.

“We didn’t know if it was just a trick to get us out of the rooms, so we could be shot,” he said. “But my teacher went on and checked and, fortunately, it was the police, and they opened the door.”

He made it out of the building — but not all of JROTC comrades did.

Cadet Carlos Gutierrez, 14, was in a study hall when the police came to rescue them. On his way out of the building, he saw several organisations — including one with the blue pants and eye-catching shiny shoes of a JROTC member protruding from a lid.

They soon learn that of the 14 students killed, three — Peter Wang, Martin Duque and Alaina Small were JROTC members. Witnesses Wang told the family that the 15-year-old was last seen in his uniform, with an open door for others to escape.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular