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Video shows massacre suspect punching himself, speaking softly

In this image made from video provided on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018, by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Detective John Curcio, left, talks with Nikolas Cruz in an interrogation room in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

(Broward County Sheriff s Office via Associated Press)

SUNRISE, Florida. – Prosecutors on Wednesday released hours of video interrogation of Florida’s school shooting suspect images show the young man slouching in a chair, repeatedly urged by a detective to speak louder and punching himself in the face when he is alone.

The images included the same material as a transcript earlier in the week, and both were edited to remove what the authorities say was a direct confession by Nikolas Cruz at the Feb. 14 massacre at marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Park.

In other developments, a sheriff directing the state commission for investigation into the massacre said Wednesday that the suspect’s behavior before the shooting was a “roller coaster”, where he would have stretches of good behavior for the worsened.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Public Safety Commission that Cruz fluctuating behavior over the years made it difficult for school officials to determine how he should be treated. Cruz, a 19-year-old former student at Stoneman Douglas, is charged with killing 17 people in the Valentine’s Day attack.

“It was really a roller-coaster ride with Cruz really from birth,” Gualtieri said. A report released last week by the Broward County school district, said that he began with behavioral problems that he kicked out of the pre-kindergarten. He spent his school years shuttling between regular campuses, and for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. “He had a couple of really bad low times but one time he was without behavioral problems,” Gualtieri said.

“It was really a roller-coaster ride with Cruz really from birth. He had a couple of really bad low times but one time he was without behavioral problems.”

– Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri

The video made public on Wednesday shows Cruz bent over at times, to sit back on others. He is seen wearing the hospital clothes and speak as gently at the beginning that Broward Sheriff’s Detective John Curcio has repeatedly urge him to talk louder. Shortly after entering a small interrogation room, the detective asks Cruz: “are you all right? Must be able to speak, so I can hear you.”

At one point, with the police out of the room, the video shows Cruz with two fingers, put them to his left temple and pretending to pull a trigger. He gave a little shake after doing this. Later, he was seen punching himself hard in the face with both hands and occasionally scratching at his right arm with a small object he picked up off the ground.

Much of the hearing focused on a demonic voice, Cruz claims that he heard in his head for years that forces him to commit violent acts. When asked what the voice says is usually, Cruz replied, “Burn. Kill. Destroy.” He also said that the voice told him to cut himself.

On another point with Curcio out of the room, Cruz mutters, “Kill me!” and then, later, “I want to die.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the public safety committee hearing, Gualtieri said that there were times in high school, and marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that Cruz’s behavior “dive-bombed,” and he required an escort to monitor him.

In this image made from video provided on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018, by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Nikolas Cruz points his fingers to his temple in an interrogation room, while the officers out of the room, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

(Broward County Sheriff s Office via Associated Press)

Gualtieri does not go into details of Wednesday, but it has been previously reported that Cruz got into fights, committed vandalism, cursed teachers, and drew a swastika on his backpack. Administrators conducted a risk assessment of him in 2016, approximately five months before he was kicked out of the school.

The 14 members and five ex-officio members will learn more about Cruz in the field of education, mental health, and medical history during a closed session Thursday when they conclude their monthly two-day meeting.

The commission must report the findings of what led to the shooting, and recommendations for system enhancements by Jan. 1. The members of the commission include law enforcement and educational officials, mental health professionals, a legislator and two parents of students who died in the attack.

Guy Grace, security, head for the Littleton, Colorado, school district, presented the commission Wednesday with suggestions for improving the safety of Florida’s schools. He said that his district strengthens security after the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School that left 13 dead plus the two student attackers. He said that the measures may vary from high-tech solutions, such as camera systems that warn monitoring for potential problems, to simply make doors easier to lock. Stoneman Douglas teachers complained after the shooting that their classrooms cannot be locked from the inside — they had to be in the hall with a key.

Grace said that his district has also issued devices to all employees, allowing them to start a lockdown at their schools.

Associated Press writers Curt Anderson in Fort Lauderdale, and Mike Schneider in Orlando contributed to this story.

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