Nikolas Cruz in jail: Isolated, restless — and asking for Bible

Rafael Olmeda, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Political News

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- School shooter Nikolas Cruz spends his days in isolation, interrupted only by occasional visits from family members, mental health experts and his lawyers.

He sleeps fitfully, eats inconsistently and spends most of his time in silence and "deep thought," according to jail records released this week by the Broward Sheriff's Office.

The records offer a glimpse into the daily life of Cruz, who was indicted Wednesday on 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.

"Inmate is on lockdown by himself ... unable to interact with others," according to one "behavior observation report" dated Feb. 18, four days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. On that day, Cruz ate his dinner and appeared most alert during a meeting with defense lawyers and a doctor. The report described him as "very engaged, responsive ... talkative."

During another visit, on Feb. 23, he "was observed smiling and giggling."

Those words rarely appear in the 36 pages of observations. More often, Cruz, 19, is described as silent or sleeping, lying awake and staring at the ceiling, cooperative with detention deputies but otherwise speaking only when spoken to.

Several sentences are blacked out of the reports released by the Sheriff's Office. Assistant Public Defender Gordon Weekes has said Cruz is on suicide watch. The observation reports either redact that information or don't include it, but an inmate check sheet for Feb. 15 describes Cruz being strip searched, fed and "placed in a suicide gown."

"Inmate did not speak to me when asked the question 'How are you?'" detention deputy Cedric Smith wrote on Feb. 19.

A day later, Deputy Matthew Johnson made another observation.

"Inmate Cruz appeared to break out in laughter both during and immediately following his professional visit," Johnson wrote. According to other records, Cruz was meeting with an investigator for the Public Defender's Office at the time.

The final observation report released indicated Cruz was having more trouble sleeping. "Twists and turns in bunk. Does not sleep. Stares at wall in deep thought, eyes closed, appears to be resting not asleep," the report states. Earlier that day, Cruz asked for something to read for the first time -- a Bible.

An arraignment date had not been set for Cruz as of late Wednesday. Once he is arraigned, prosecutors will have 45 days to indicate whether they plan to seek the death penalty.

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