One recalls, when in the late 70s they rebroadcast the re-runs of The Three Stooges comedy show, aficionados of the show would shout out ‘It’s Stooge time!’ Well, sadly, after the latest school shooting in Florida, it is Stooge Time again. The February 19th USA TODAY, as mainstream a paper as one can find, carried this full-page report by Brett Murphy (relegated to Page 4 when it should have been on Page One) that covered the chain of actions and non actions by the state agencies, the Sheriffs Dept. and the FBI regarding the horrific actions of Nikolas Cruz. To this writer, what was revealed is downright disgusting! Please note that much of the information I relate comes sometimes ‘word for word’ from the article.
We now know that Cruz was diagnosed with depression, autism and ADHD and that he was cited for violence, fighting, assaults, profane language and insults at school at least 41 times from 2012-2017 by teachers, school officials and administrators. In May of 2016, a Florida Dept. of Children & Families investigator wrote “Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun” (six months before he turned 18 and legally bought one) and “It is unknown what he is buying the gun for.” Police have acknowledged to visiting his home dozens of times and there is no indication what actions, if any, the officers took. Of course, it is now public knowledge, while our fastidious FBI is ‘hot on the case’ of some Fat Cat Russians allegedly hacking into the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign (with, of most importance, revealing nothing but the TRUTH by the way)that they were called in January by a concerned citizen stating that Cruz stated his desire to kill people. We now know, and the FBI has had to apologize after the murders that nothing was done about it… No visits to Cruz and no interviews of him by the FBI. Going back to 2016, the Dept. of Children and Families investigator was told that Cruz was self-mutilating himself, a reason that the Florida Baker Act Law could have been used to involuntarily get him mental health evaluation. At that same time, the investigator became concerned about Cruz’s talk about being depressed and wanting to purchase a gun. Oh boy!! Now here’s the kicker: The investigators for that department noted his mental health diagnoses and his expressions of hate such as Nazi symbols on his book bag alongside of a racial slur. When an investigator then went to visit Cruz at his home, there was no search to confirm those self-mutilations because, to quote the investigator, “He was wearing long sleeves.”
The story gets more disgraceful. The school staff, doing their jobs, in October of 2016 called Henderson Behavioral Health in Broward County after learning that Cruz had self-mutilated and had a fight with another student. It was noted that “Henderson’s mobile crisis unit had been called out to the school and determined that he was not at risk to harm himself or others.” The Henderson crisis clinician treating Cruz found him stable enough NOT to warrant hospitalization under that Florida Baker Act for people who pose a threat to themselves or others. By the way, according to the reporter, an administrator at Henderson declined to answer questions and hung up when contacted for an interview this past Sunday. Children and Families Department Secretary Mike Carroll said in a statement this past Saturday “Mental health services and supports were in place when this investigation closed.” Oh really Mike. Thank goodness it wasn’t YOUR kids or grandkids in that school last week.
There is more to share the ‘Stooge time’ here folks. Let’s not let the police off the hook completely either. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said last week that his office received about 20 calls in the past few years about Cruz. That is not what some of the neighbors told the reporter. They felt that the number of 20 times over a few years was much too low. A few said that deputies were frequently parked at Cruz’s home, and one neighbor, Dave Brugman, called the Sheriff’s dept after seeing Cruz post online about buying guns just after his 18th birthday- around the same time as the Children and Families investigation. “They told us they checked it out”, Brugman said, and they added “You can’t watch him every day.”
So, we have an obviously mentally ill young man, for not months but years, who obviously needed continuous psychiatric treatment and close supervision. Here’s the final kicker. Yes, ALL those in positions that we the public rely on had failed. If that was because we lived in a society whereupon the cherished Safety Net was well funded and serviced by full staffing and lower caseloads, then the target of blame is obvious. Sadly, that is NOT the case, and of course NOT ever mentioned by the USA TODAY story. Look how many homeless folks walk the streets of ALL our towns? Doesn’t anyone connect the dots and realize that many of these folks are mentally ill and need institutional help? Of course, many of the others are low-income folks from dysfunctional backgrounds, with little or no family or friends support. They are the ones who ‘fall through the rocks’ of this top-heavy economic system we are submitted to live under. As far as the mentally ill homeless, I would say that if Nikolas Cruz did NOT use that gun and pull the trigger, he himself, with what little funding and staffing there currently is for the Safety Net, would be one of that army of the homeless walking the streets of Parkland.
Our states and their cities are broke! The Military Industrial Empire makes sure that over HALF of your tax dollars goes down the rabbit hole for unnecessary military spending and phony wars and occupations, with our nearly 1000 bases in countries that DO NOT want us there! Children like NIkolas Cruz, who are mentally ill, will continue to be pushed along by agencies that don’t have the resources or staffing to really stop this madness… until the next trigger is pulled!