BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – “Burn. Kill. Destroy.”
Those are the orders accused school shooter Nikolas Cruz claimed a voice in his head gave him before he gunned down 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Cruz, a 19-year-old former student at the school, also called himself “nothing but worthless” and quietly told a detective he didn’t deserve a bottle of water offered to him during questioning, according to a transcript of his hours-long interrogation following the Valentine’s Day shooting.
“Kill me,” Cruz mumbled to himself after John Curcio, a detective with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, stepped out of the room to get bottles of cold water for himself and for Cruz. “(Expletive) kill me. (Expletive).”
Cruz made similar comments later in the transcript, which is a written record of a video-recorded interrogation conducted by Curcio the day of the mass shooting, which injured another 17 people besides those killed.
The 217-page transcript, which was released Monday on a judge’s order, was heavily redacted, with more than a third of the pages either partially or fully blacked out. The Miami Herald reported that Florida law allows law enforcement and the courts to shield any documents deemed to be “substance of a confession” from the public until a case is concluded.
Details of what Cruz said about the actual shooting were among the parts redacted.
The transcript’s first 35 pages are dedicated to Cruz’s background, some of which the detective said he’d already obtained from other people. As the interrogation moved on to details of Cruz’s actions, such as how he got to Stoneman Douglas earlier that day, Cruz tells the detective that he doesn’t remember.
Curcio reminds the suspected gunman that he earlier said he didn’t deserve water.
“So I, you know, when you say, ‘I can’t remember,’ for you not to believe you deserve it, you remember,” Curcio tells Cruz. “You know what I’m saying? You wouldn’t say that if you didn’t remember what happened.”
“OK,” Cruz responds.
The redaction of the transcript begins at that point. A few pages later, Cruz tells the detective that talking about what happened is hard.
“Oh (expletive), dude. This is hard,” Cruz says.
Curcio tells him he knows it’s hard and reminds him to speak more loudly and with his head up so the detective can hear him.
In the next portion of the transcript that is readable, Cruz discusses the purchase of the AR-15 rifle he allegedly used in the mass shooting, as well as extra magazines for the gun. Cruz tells Curcio he bought the rifle in a store and the magazines online.
It is 83 pages into the transcript when Cruz begins talking about the voice he hears in his head.
“Tell me about them,” Curcio says. “What are the voices about?”
“It’s one. It’s another voice, the evil side,” Cruz responds.
He tells Curcio that he’s heard the voice for years, but that it got worse after his mother died in November.
“What does the voice say to you? What does it tell you to do?” the detective asks.
“Burn. Kill. Destroy,” Cruz says.
“OK. Burn, kill, destroy what?” Curcio asks.
“Anything,” Cruz replies.
The transcript shows that Cruz initially told Curcio the last time he heard the voice was the day before the shooting as he worked as a cashier at the Dollar Tree in Parkland. He then said he’d heard it the morning of the shooting.
Details of what the voice told him that morning are redacted in the document.
Cruz tells the detective that the voice is that of a male his own age and that it tells him to do bad things. He says there is no voice telling him to do good things.
“It’s just regular me trying to be a good person,” Cruz says.
About halfway through the transcript, Cruz tells Curcio that he initially planned to go a few weeks earlier to a park and shoot people. He said he didn’t do it at that time because he was “a coward.”
He also criticizes himself as stupid multiple times throughout the interview.
Read the redacted statement from Cruz below.
About two hours into the interrogation, Curcio leaves the room in search of Cruz’s phone. It is at that point that Cruz talks to himself again.
“I want to die,” Cruz said. “At the end, you are nothing but worthless (expletive), dude. You deserve to die because you’re (expletive) worthless and you (expletive) (unintelligible) everyone.”
When Curcio returns, the talk once again returns to the voice Cruz says he hears.
“Now you talked about demons. And then you talk about the voice –,” Curcio says.
“Yeah, that’s the demon. The voice is the demon,” Cruz responds.
When asked what he thought might happen if he didn’t listen to the voice, Cruz says “loneliness.”
Loneliness is what led him to try drinking himself to death a couple of years before the shooting, Cruz reveals during Curcio’s background questioning. He says he tried to kill himself again a couple of months before the shooting with an overdose of ibuprofen.
His mother’s death had him depressed at that time, Cruz says. The pain medication made him sick, but he did not seek medical treatment.
Curcio doesn’t appear to believe Cruz’s claim of hearing a voice. At one point in the interrogation, he tells Cruz he never tried to stop the “demon.”
“You could have stopped the demon by getting a prescription for marijuana. You could have stopped the demon by getting a prescription for Xanax,” Curcio says. “You could have stopped the demon any time you want. You didn’t want to stop the demon.”
The detective also accuses Cruz of using the demon as an excuse.
“I’m not. I promise,” Cruz says. “I don’t like the demon. I don’t like the demon.”
“That’s if the demon exists,” Curcio says.
Cruz ended the interrogation at that point by asking for a lawyer.
The transcript also contains details of a brief meeting Cruz was allowed with his brother, Zachary Cruz, before being taken to jail. Parts of the brothers’ conversation are redacted, indicating that Nikolas Cruz made more incriminating statements at that time.
Zachary, the younger of the brothers, makes the new prisoner promise to stay strong and to not hurt himself.
He also admits that he treated Nikolas Cruz badly when they were children.
“I know I make it seem like I didn’t care about you at all,” Zachary Cruz says. “I know I made it seem like, when we were growing up, that I hated you, I didn’t like you. But the truth is, I just didn’t want to look like a … I didn’t want to look weak.”
“I love you with all my heart.”
Nikolas Cruz returns the sentiment but again calls himself a failure.
“I’m a failure, dude,” he says. “There’s no question about it.”
“No, you’re just … you’re lost,” Zachary Cruz says.
Nikolas Cruz is charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the shooting at Stoneman Douglas, which kicked off nationwide protests led by many of the students who survived the Feb. 14 rampage. Cruz remains in the Broward County Jail awaiting trial.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, though Cruz’s defense team has offered his guilty plea in exchange for life in prison.
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