A man with a disturbing obsession with mass shootings has been arrested for leaving animal carcasses at a memorial for the victims of the Parkland massacre.
Robert Mondragon, a 29-year-old from Broward County, Florida, is accused of dumping a mutilated duck, a dead raccoon and an opossum carcass on the bench at the MSD Memorial Garden – the memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17. students and staff were killed in the 2018 mass attack.
Police said a school crossing guard first found a dead duck with its chest cavity open on the bench on July 20. The next day, the same guard discovered a dead raccoon on the counter.
Ten days later, on July 31, an officer found the corpse of an opossum left in the same place.
The net was closed on Mr Mondragon after a man driving a white Nissan with all black wheels or tires and no cover was captured on surveillance footage at the memorial site.
Investigators said the video shows the car driving towards the monument around 11pm on July 30. There, the man exits the car and enters the memorial site, spending a few minutes there before walking away.
The following evening, a law enforcement officer spotted a vehicle matching that description driving along a nearby road and pulled the car over.
Inside, the officer found blood and bird feathers and Mr. Mondragon behind the wheel.
When asked why he had a dead bird in his car, Mr Mondragon allegedly told the officer that he “likes the smell of metal and blood coming off the dead animal”.
A search of Mr. Mondragon’s phone later revealed chilling photos of him holding a mutilated dead duck and a dead raccoon on the floor of his vehicle, investigators said.
He was arrested and charged with three counts of removing or defacing a grave or monument, five counts of breaching his probation for extreme and indecent exposure and one count of breaching a protection from harm order.
After his arrest, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said other chilling details came to light, revealing that Mr. Mondragon had a disturbing fascination with “real and imagined” school shooters.
Investigators found text messages about school shootings, and his Internet search history showed he researched school shooters, mass shooting pipe bombs, how to break into steel doors and kill police officers.
Then, just two weeks before the end of the 2021/2022 school year, Mr. Mondragon allegedly retraced Nikolas Cruz’s steps after the shooting.
After carrying out the massacre, Cruz blended in with students leaving the high school and walked to a nearby Walmart. Police said Mr Mondragon made the same trip.
Investigators also believe Mr Mondragon, who has a heavily tattooed face, based his tattoo choices on a fictional mass shooter in the American Horror Story series.
At a news conference Friday, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said the investigation shows the suspect has “a desire to create an active shooter event in our school system.”
It fits every category it comes in. We were lucky and luck is not a strategy,” he said, adding that Mr. Mondragon is “the toughest person we’ve been able to arrest and get off the streets.”
News of Mr. Mondrogan’s arrest comes as the man responsible for the Marjory Stoneman massacre is on trial in Broward County.
Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 Valentine’s Day attack.
Cruz, then 19, stalked the school’s hallways with an AR-15 shooting victims.
Jurors will now decide whether he should be sentenced to life in prison without parole or to death.