(ReliableNews.org) – On February 14, 2018, then 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz walked into Parkland, Florida, Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school armed with an AR-15 military-style rifle and multiple ammunition magazines. In less than an hour, Cruz took the lives of 17 people and injured 17 others, making the incident the worst high school massacre in US history. On October 20, he stepped into a Florida courtroom and pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.
Florida Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer asked Cruz a series of questions to confirm he had the requisite mental competency to plead guilty. Parents watched as Cruz muttered an apology that many parents later said sounded like a plea for unwarranted sympathy.
Gena Hoyer, the mother of a 15-year-old victim, told reporters she viewed Cruz’s remarks as part of a strategy to keep a “violent [and] evil person off death row.” She continued by saying Cruz didn’t “deserve life in prison.”
Anthony Borges, a former student who survived multiple gunshot wounds, said he wasn’t God, and it wasn’t up to him to decide Cruz’s ultimate fate. “It hurts,” he stated, adding, “I am just going to keep going.”
Cruz’s victims included 14 teenagers ranging in age from 14 to 18 and 3 adults, a 35-year-old teacher, a 37-year-old coach, and the school’s athletic director, 49. Jury selection for the punishment phase of his trial begins in early January 2022.
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