Parkland gunman facing death penalty
Suspect charged with 17 first-degree murder counts in Feb. 14 killings.
PARKLAND — Broward County prosecutors will ask for the death penalty for confessed Parkland gunman Nikolas Cruz, State Attorney Michael Satz said Tuesday.
Satz said he filed a “notice of intent to seek death” in the 17 first-degree murder counts stemming from the Feb. 14 rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 14 students and three adults dead.
Cruz also is charged with attempted murder in the shootings of 17 others who survived.
A Broward County grand jury formally indicted Cruz, 19, on March 7.
Authorities have said that, after the November pneumonia death of Cruz’s mother left Cruz and his younger brother, Zachary, orphaned, the two moved to the suburban Lantana home of family friend Rocxanne Deschamps.
When Deschamps told Cruz he
could stay only if he got rid of his guns, Cruz moved in late November to the northern Broward County home of another family that had been friends of the mother.
He was staying there when, authorities say, he took an Uber to the school, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and a cache of ammunition, and opened fire.
The massacre, the latest of several in recent years, many in schools, has reopened the twin debates about both gun control and mental health.
On March 9, Gov. Rick Scott signed his first bill of the legislative session — a sweeping law that boosts school safety and restricts access to guns — despite it containing a program he opposes that would allow some teachers to carry concealed weapons on campuses. The bill makes major changes to Florida gun laws, including imposing a threeday waiting period on the purchase of any firearm, boosting the minimum age to buy a gun to 21 and banning the sale of bump stocks, devices meant to make a semi-automatic rifle fire like an automatic one. Scott has stopped short of calling for a complete ban on automatic weapons.
The New York Times also reported that a woman who knew Cruz told the FBI a month before the massacre that Cruz possessed an arsenal of weapons and ammunition, and she worried he might be “getting into a school and just shooting the place up.”
“I know he’s going to explode,” the woman said in a call to the FBI’s tip hotline on Jan. 5. The Broward County Sheriff ’s Office, which staffs the Parkland police station, received a call in November from a caller raising similar concerns about Cruz: that he was collecting guns and knives, might kill himself and “could be a school shooter in the making.” Two deputies have been placed on restricted duty while the office investigates how two calls about Cruz — the one in November and an earlier one in 2016 — were mishandled
The Broward sheriff ’s office also has come under scrutiny after revealing that school resources deputy Scot Peterson, who lives in suburban Boynton Beach, stood outside despite hearing gunfire coming from within.
Authorities say Cruz, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and a cache of ammunition, opened fire.
Confessed gunman Nikolas Cruz makes his initial appearance last month in the Feb. 14 rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.