(NEW YORK) — Nikolas Cruz apparently tried to buy an AR-15-style rifle at a South Florida gun shop, but was turned away due to his age, just months before he allegedly opened fire at a nearby high school.
In a recent interview with ABC affiliate WPLG, the owner of Coconut Creek Pawn & Guns recalled the day Cruz, 19, came into his shop wanting to purchase a AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. The owner, Razi, who wouldn’t give his last name, said he didn’t think much of the encounter at the time.
“I asked him, it’s the first question I ask everybody, ‘How old are you?'” Razi recalled telling Cruz. “And I believe he said, ‘Oh, I’m over 18.’ I said, ‘Are you under 21?’ He said, ‘Yes,’ and I said, ‘I don’t sell any firearms to under the age of 21.'”
Razi told WPLG that Cruz tried to persuade him to sell the firearm.
“And I said, ‘Because I don’t need an 18-year-old to buy [a] weapon and clear out his high school with it,” Razi said, adding that he tells this to everyone Cruz’s age.
“Not just him,” he told WPLG. “I tell it to every kid who comes here to buy weapons.”
Under Florida’s current gun laws, the minimum age to purchase and possess a rifle is 18. State lawmakers are expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would raise the gun purchase age to 21 and arm some school personnel.
The gun shop in Coconut Creek is just 5 miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where Cruz allegedly shot and killed 17 people on Feb. 14.
The AR-15-style rifle authorities allegedly used in the massacre was legally purchased by Cruz a year ago, authorities said.
Razi told WPLG he knew Cruz had been in his store a few months prior as soon as he saw his picture online.
“I have chills really coming down my spine,” the gun shop owner said. “I mean, thank God I have not sold this monster a weapon.”
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday interviewed Razi as part of its investigation into the mass shooting, he told WPLG.
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