At a Glance | February 20

Suspect Charged With Premediated Murder in Florida High School Shooting


A 19-year-old Florida man faces premediated murder charges after allegedly opening fire at a high school on February 14, killing 17 and injuring 14. Nikolas Cruz (right) is accused of returning to the school he was expelled from a year ago for disciplinary reasons—Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida—with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and multiple loaded magazines to commit the 18th school shooting in the United States so far in 2018. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office’s booking report states that Cruz admitted to being the gunman, and he discarded the rifle and a vest carrying extra ammunition after the shooting to blend in with fleeing students. Cruz evaded officers for approximately one hour before being arrested. Cruz purchased the rifle legally in February 2017, according to federal law enforcement. No motive has been announced, but authorities are examining Cruz’s past behavior and social media posts. The FBI was alerted in September about a comment made on YouTube by a user going by the name Nikolas Cruz that said, “Im [sic] going to be a professional school shooter,” but it was unable to identify and locate the poster. The FBI also received a tip on January 5 from somebody close to Cruz expressing concerns, but the agency failed to follow protocol and did not investigate further. A white supremacist group, Republic of Florida, claimed Cruz as a member, but authorities have not confirmed any ties to the group.

Elizabeth Man Receives Multiple Life Sentences in New York City Bombing

An Elizabeth man convicted in a Manhattan bombing in 2016 that injured 30 people was given multiple life sentences on February 13. Ahmad Khan Rahimi, 30, was found guilty on October 16 on eight federal charges in connection with the bombing in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on September 17, 2016. At his sentencing, Rahimi said, “I don’t harbor hate for anyone.” However, in a submission on January 16 to US District Judge Richard M. Berman, federal prosecutors argued that Rahimi showed no remorse, had attempted to radicalize fellow inmates, and made light of his attacks. He was also ordered to pay $562,803 in restitution. Rahimi still faces federal charges for placing a bomb in Seaside Park that detonated prior to a charity 5K race and for leaving explosive devices in a backpack at a train station in Elizabeth. He is also charged in New Jersey for engaging in a shootout with Linden police officers.

Galloway Township Man Arrested in Attempted Arson of Police Department Building

A 33-year-old Galloway Township man faces charges after allegedly attempting to set the township’s police department building on fire. Sean D. Shearer was arrested on two counts of aggravated arson and one count of criminal mischief in connection with the incident that took place on December 12. Surveillance video shows a man loitering outside of the front lobby of the police station at around 6:30 p.m. He then attempted to light a glass bottle filled with petroleum accelerant before throwing it toward the entrance and running away. Police say the bottle shattered on the concrete without igniting, and the contents splashed on the doors, floor mats, and entranceway. An officer and civilian were in the lobby, but no injuries were reported. Shearer was later identified as the suspect in a joint investigation by the police department and special agents from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Shearer is being held in the Atlantic County jail.

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at or 609-584-4000.