Jurors hear about Nikolas Cruz’s online comments, Internet searches

Broward Sheriff's Office Detective Nick Masters testifies about the internet search history for Nikolas Cruz.  Nikolas Cruz is being tried in the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. Cruz previously pleaded guilty to all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings.

Broward Sheriff’s Office Detective Nick Masters testifies about the internet search history for Nikolas Cruz. Nikolas Cruz is being tried in the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. Cruz previously pleaded guilty to all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings.

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Parkland mass killer Nikolas Cruz promised online he would become a “professional school shooter” and scoured the internet for information about some of the nation’s deadliest mass killings, jurors heard on Wednesday.

Cruz’s online history is a key point for prosecutors seeking to prove Cruz acted in a premeditated and calculated fashion in storming Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in February 2018, using an AR-15 rifle to fatally shoot 14 students and three staff members. The alarming comments on YouTube pages promising bloodshed and the dozens of online searches came in the months leading up to the massacre.

The YouTube comments, posted in 2017 and early 2018, displayed Cruz’s seething rage and self-pity, professing “my life sucks,” “I hate everyone” and wanting to kill “a ton of people and murder children.”

“I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” he wrote on Sept. 24, 2017, five months before the Parkland massacre.

Read more: How a driven prosecutor is building the case to execute the Parkland killer: ‘Brick by brick.’

Broward Sheriff’s Office Detective Nicholas Masters also told jurors about Cruz’s numerous searches on Google and YouTube, looking for pages about ammunition, AR-15s and infamous mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Columbine, Colorado, Las Vegas and at Virginia Tech University, among others .

He also searched out information on Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old spree killer who murdered six people in Isla Vista, California, in 2014. Rodger made a disturbing hate-filled video posted shortly before killing himself, and has become idolized among online extreme misogynists.

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The Google account search history for the account Nikolasjacobcruz@gmail.com shown in court. Nikolas Cruz is being tried in the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. Cruz previously pleaded guilty to all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Mike Stocker South Florida Sun Sentinel

On the day of the Parkland massacre, Cruz also searched the name of his former school.

Among other searches on YouTube: “How to shoot at 500 yards,” “killing people,” “how to become evil in society,” “top ten murders caught on tape,” “how massacre works” and “shooting at girls.”

The jurors saw the evidence on the eighth day of testimony in the sentencing trial for Cruz, 23, who has already pleaded guilty to 17 counts each of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. The jury will ultimately decide if Cruz is sent to Florida Death Row to be executed, or gets a sentence of life in prison.

Also on Wednesday, jurors saw a video surveillance clip of Cruz’s attack on a Broward County Sheriff’s deputy detained nine months after his arrest for the mass shooting. Cruz pleaded guilty to battery, and that conviction can be considered by the jury as an “aggravating factor” in determining the death penalty.

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Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Raymond Beltran shows the jury how his Taser is deployed while testifying about a jailhouse fight he had with Nikolas Cruz in 2018. Cruz is in the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. Cruz previously pleaded guilty to 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings. Mike Stocker South Florida Sun Sentinel

Sgt. Raymond Beltran told jurors that on Nov. 13, 2018, he was supervising Cruz’s regular exercise time in a common area outside his cell — Cruz was walking in circles around a couple of tables. Because Cruz’s jail-issued flip-flops had broken, Beltran ordered him back to his cell so he could have a new pair brought to him.

“He stopped talking, flipped me off twice and then he attacked me,” Beltran told jurors.

The video shows Cruz and Beltran grappling on the ground, struggling over the deputy’s Taser stun gun. “Hhe actually has my Taser in his hand,” Beltran told jurors.

The weapon discharged, hitting the floor. Beltran was able to get up, and Cruz laid down on the ground and was cuffed.

Read more: What to expect as Parkland shooting trial continues: school tour; defense makes its case

Jurors also heard from former Broward Chief Medical Examiner Craig Mallak, who performed the autopsy on slain student Cara Loughran, 14. He testified that Cara was shot three times, including one that entered the side of her chest and caused “severe damage to the heart .”

The trial is not in session Thursday or Friday. Assistant State Attorney Mike Satz told the court prosecutors will conclude their case in chief next week.

This story was originally published July 27, 2022 3:52 PM.

David Ovalle covers crime and courts in Miami. A native of San Diego, he graduated from the University of Southern California and joined the Herald in 2002 as a sports reporter.

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