Nikolas Cruz charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder, faces death penalty over Florida massacre



Associated Press

Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was formally charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder, which could mean a death sentence if he is convicted.

In 911 calls, a family housing Cruz warned law enforcement that he might be violent.
Source: Associated Press

The indictment returned by a grand jury in Fort Lauderdale also charges the 19-year-old with 17 counts of attempted murder for the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in which 17 people died and more than a dozen others were wounded.

Cruz's public defender has said he will plead guilty if prosecutors take the death penalty off the table, which would mean a life prison sentence.

The US couple who housed Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 students last week, have offered their sympathy in a TV interview.
Source: Associated Press

The Broward County state attorney has not announced a decision on the death penalty.

James and Kimberly Snead, the couple who gave Cruz a home after his mother died late last year, testified before the grand jury.

Both James Snead and the couple's attorney, Jim Lewis, wore silver "17" pins to honor the victims of the shooting.

The couple is "trying to do the right thing" and is mourning along with the rest of the Parkland community, Lewis said.

Students return to Florida's Stoneman Douglas school, two weeks after 17 slaughtered by gunman.
Source: 1 NEWS

"We'll let justice take its course at this point," Lewis said. "They still don't know what happened, why this happened. They don't have any answers. They feel very badly for everybody."

Cruz told investigators he took an AR-15 rifle to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Valentine's Day and started shooting into classrooms.

Jail records released by the Broward Sheriff's Office show Cruz was being held in solitary confinement. Officers described Cruz as being cooperative but avoiding eye contact.

The report said Cruz "often sits with a blank stare," appeared to laugh and exhibited "awkward" behavior during and after a visit with an attorney and had one "family visit."

Officers said Cruz also requested a Bible to read in his single-person cell in the infirmary.

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