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William Wan, David Weingrad, Fred Barbash and Mark Berman

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Nikolas Cruz, 19, is the man suspected of fatally shooting at least 17 people at a South Florida high school on Feb. 14. Here's what you should know.

He had been getting treatment at a mental health clinic, but he had stopped. He had been expelled from school for disciplinary problems. Many of his acquaintances had cut ties in part because of his unnerving Instagram posts and reports that he liked shooting animals. His father died a few years ago, and his mother, among the only people with whom he was close, died around Thanksgiving. He was living at a friend’s house. He was showing signs of depression.

And Nikolas Cruz, 19, had a fascination with guns. He owned an AR-15 assault-style rifle.

Although school officials, students and others who knew him were aware that something was off with Cruz, it is unclear whether anyone had a full picture of what was building within him in recent months. Had everyone who knew of his struggles sat down in a room and compared notes about his recent past, perhaps an alarm would have sounded ahead of what emerged on Valentine’s Day, when Cruz allegedly walked into a suburban South Florida high school and carried out one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.

“Weird” was the word students had used to describe Cruz since middle school. At first “it was nothing alarming,” said Dakota Mutchler, 17, who attended middle school with Cruz, adding that there was something “a little off about him.” But that was it — for a while.

As Cruz transitioned into high school, he “started progressively getting a little more weird,” Mutchler told The Washington Post. Cruz, he said, was selling knives out of a lunchbox, posting on Instagram about guns and killing animals, and eventually “going after one of my friends, threatening her.”

On Wednesday night, Mutchler recalled Cruz as an increasingly frightening figure, being suspended from school repeatedly, before he was expelled last year. “When someone is expelled,” Mutchler said, “you don’t really expect them to come back. But, of course, he came back.”

He came back to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a vengeance, according to the Broward County sheriff, who identified Cruz as the gunman who marched through the school with an AR-15 assault-style rifle, killing 17 people and wounding at least 15 others. He has been booked on 17 counts of premeditated murder.

New video shows arrest of Florida shooting suspect

Police arrested Nikolas Cruz, who is suspected of killing 17 people in a shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.

“I think everyone in this school had it in the back of their mind that if anyone was supposed to do it, it was most likely going to  be him,” Mutchler said.

Mutchler spoke as he stood outside a Marriott Hotel where families and students had been told to gather so they could find one another and go home. Still looking dazed, the young man also spoke with the benefit of hindsight.