— Campus monitor Medina sees Nikolas Cruz and thinks, ‘Crazy boy. That’s crazy boy.’
— Cruz breaks into a run when he notices Medina coming his way on a golf cart.
— Medina radios ahead to warn that a suspicious kid was heading for the 1200 building.
— Medina recalls monitors saying: ‘If there’s gonna be anybody who’s gonna … shoot this school up, it’s gonna be that kid.’
The latest installment in a series of occasional stories examining the factors that might have made a crucial difference in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
When the campus monitor spotted the former student arriving on campus, head hung low, wearing a backpack and carrying a duffel bag, he couldn’t recall the kid’s name but he remembered he was trouble.
“Crazy boy. That’s crazy boy.”
The school day was about 20 minutes from dismissal as Andrew Medina, a baseball coach and unarmed campus monitor, rode his golf cart around the Marjory Stoneman Douglas campus unlocking gates.
What followed were more of the critical moments that might have made a difference between life and death for the 17 people killed on Valentine’s Day at the Parkland school.
Medina laid out the chain of events to detectives in a sworn statement obtained by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Medina was the first to see Nikolas Cruz step onto the Parkland campus on Feb. 14. He tuned into the 19-year-old getting out of a gold-colored Uber and striding purposefully toward the 1200 building.
“He’s beelining. He’s got his head down. He’s on a mission, you know. He’s on a mission,” Medina later told investigators.
Medina radioed ahead to a fellow campus monitor assigned to that building to warn him that a suspicious kid — who Medina did not suspect was carrying a gun in his duffel bag — was heading for the east-side entrance.
Cruz broke into a run when he noticed Medina coming his way on a golf cart “kind of chasing him.” Cruz then slipped inside the building.
In less than a minute, Medina heard “the first bang, like pow.”
Campus security had long been leery of Cruz.
“I’m telling you I knew who the kid was,” Medina, 39, of Coral Springs, told investigators. “Because we had a meeting about him last year and we said, ‘if there’s gonna be anybody who’s gonna come to this school and shoot this school up, it’s gonna be that kid.’”
Medina remembered Cruz as the “racist” kid who always wore black or camouflage and had swastikas on his backpack. The same kid who had been sent to the office for wearing a camo mask, hiding behind poles and jumping out to scare students.
He texted other monitors to try to figure out Cruz’s name.
Although Medina didn’t think Cruz was armed, something told him not to approach him.
Medina instead relied on his training: “Do what we’ve been taught. Report it.”
“Because I was ready to go get him. Like, I was ready to go be the guy, just go get him.”
He radioed David Taylor, 49, a coach and fellow campus monitor, warning him to “be careful” because a “suspicious kid” was coming.
Taylor descended to the first floor where he saw Cruz walk in on the opposite end of the building and go into a stairwell where he assembled and loaded his AR-15.
“When [Taylor] was walking halfway down the hallway, he heard the shots and he ran right into a janitor’s closet that was right there,” Medina said. “Like, that’s what we’re — our training is go in, lock in, close all the doors.”
At the first sound of gunfire, Medina considered reporting an emergency code, a warning that a shooter was on campus. But he hesitated. He’d been trained not to set off a massive law enforcement response unless he actually saw a gun or shots fired.
“I don’t want to be the guy who calls that, you know.”
As Medina picked up armed school deputy Scot Peterson with his golf cart, somebody on the radio yelled: “It sounds like fireworks.”
Somebody responded: “Those ain’t fireworks.”
Medina and Peterson made their way to the front of the 1200 building where they heard more shots.
“That’s when the deputy was like, get out of here … and he told me just to go back to the front of the school.”
Peterson, who has since resigned from the Broward Sheriff’s Office, has been vilified and called a coward for not rushing into the building and shooting Cruz.
When the shooting stopped minutes later, everyone was trying to figure out where the gunman had gone.
Cruz had abandoned his rifle and blended in with fleeing students. Police arrested him about an hour and 20 minutes later on a nearby residential street.
When Medina was brought there to identify the suspect, Cruz hyperventilated and vomited clear fluid.
Hours later, Medina second-guessed himself as he talked to detectives.
“Now I really wish I would have stopped him before and we would have saved all this, but it really wasn’t nothing I could do about that … I was just doing my job, what they train us to do, you know.”
In the two weeks before the Valentine’s Day shooting, campus monitors had been training on how to handle a mass shooting, Medina said.
He mentioned Sandy Hook and the lessons learned there about locking all doors inside the school.
A campus monitor’s primary duty, according to a job description provided by the Broward School District, is to watch for outsiders and figure out why they’re on campus, keep a log of suspicious activities and patrol the grounds.
Debbi Hixon, whose husband Chris, athletic director, wrestling coach and a campus monitor, was murdered when he ran to confront Cruz, said she was shocked that no one actually got in Cruz’s face as he walked onto school property.
“If someone had confronted him, I think he would have been a coward and it wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “Why didn’t people just do their job? Here was a trespasser.”
Hixon said she’s not surprised that her husband, an Iraq war veteran, ran toward danger but she’s mad that he did — because now she’s a widow.
When reached on Wednesday, Medina disputed what he told investigators while under oath. He told a reporter that there was never a meeting identifying Cruz as a potential school shooter, he didn’t recognize Cruz specifically and he saw him arrive at the school from a distance of about two football fields.
Medina, who has been a baseball coach for six years and a campus monitor for three, said the months since the shooting have been emotional.
“Every day is different,” he said. “You got to return to the same place every day.”
Staff writers Stephen Hobbs and Lisa J. Huriash contributed to this report.