Nightmare in Parkland, Florida

Parkland, Florida is a suburban city, around 40 miles NW of Miami.  At the last census, the population was 34,670.

In 2021, Parkland was named as one of the most affluent cities in the US.

Parkland ranked at number 16 among the top 25 cities between 30,000 and 50,000 residents in their published study  “Most Affluent Small Cities in America.”

After categorizing small cities based on their population, their data shows the median household income in Parkland is $154,844, while the median income for the top 50 cities between 30,000 and 50,000 residents is $137,983.

ikolas Cruz was born on September 24, 1998. His biological mother is a woman named Brenda Woodard. Brenda gave Nikolas up for adoption as soon as he was born. She went through a private adoption process for him and his adopted parents were Lynda and Roger Cruz. As far as I can tell, the details of Nikolas’ bio father have not been made public.

Lynda was in the delivery room when Brenda gave birth. It was the day before her 49th birthday. She and Roger were older parents. Roger was 61 when Nikolas was born and he had 4 children from a previous relationship. Lynda had been married previously but had children from that union.

Less than a year after Nikolas was born, Brenda became pregnant again and the Cruz’s adopted that baby also, another son named Zachary.

Just to note, Brenda has an extensive criminal history. She has a rap sheet for battery, grand theft, and drug possession, dating back to 1988.

She has also been accused of many violent crimes, including beating someone with a tire iron.

Roger worked in marketing and traveled a lot for work.

But “when he was home,” family friend Ben Aaronson said, “he was all about his kids. I remember Roger having this entire, like, really extended-type jungle gym out back in the backyard being built,” he said. “They built another wing to the house, and the kids just had plenty to do.”

Lynda was a stay at home mom and the family were very involved in community events. She worked on getting Parkland’s Liberty Park constructed and her two sons had their names printed on the fence slats there. Nikolas’ name can still be seen at the park.

The family had two dogs for the boys, a retriever named Maisey and a terrier named Kobe.

By the time Nikolas was 3, he had been diagnosed with developmental delays.

“He was delayed in independence skills, he was delayed in language, he was delayed in gross motor, fine motor,” said Anne Marie Fischer the former director of the Young Minds Learning Center where Nikolas went to pre-school.

When Nikolas was 5, Roger died in front of him from a heart attack. The family friend Ben recounted this event to the Orlando Sentinel.

“Nikolas came down the hallway and he went to his room, and he was crying. She said, ‘What’s the matter, did Daddy punish you?’ Just as clear as day, he said, ‘Nope. Daddy’s dead.’ ”

As Nikolas grew up, more challenges emerged. He had been diagnosed with a string of disorders and conditions: depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, emotional behavioral disability and autism, records from the state Department of Children and Families show.

He was “a mama’s boy,” said Ben. “She was his best friend.”

Nikolas and Zachary did not always get along. Zachary has said that Nikolas seemed to be the favorite child and that Zachary occasionally bullied him.

Nikolas became increasingly physical with both his mother and Zachary as he grew older. Police were called to their home 23 times in 10 years.

Nikolas education was very disrupted. He was known for foul language, insults and disobedience.

Nikolas attended Westglades Middle School in Coral Springs. He left there in eighth grade and changed to Cross Creek School in Pompano Beach, which offers a program for emotionally and behaviorally disabled children.

He didn’t want to be there, but attended through January in his 10th-grade year.

“Nikolas’ personal goal is to [be] mainstreamed to his home high school,” according to a Broward school system report from June 2015, the end of his ninth-grade year. “He often fixates on the idea that his current school is for students that are ‘not smart’ and that he can now handle being in ‘regular’ school.”

Nikolas attended high school at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He never graduated.

Nikolas also developed a fascination with guns and death. “He is very concerned about his grades and how he is doing academically in class,” the school report reads. “Nikolas at times will be distracted by inappropriate conversations of his peers if the topic is about guns, people being killed or the armed forces. He will also engage in the conversation,” the report says, going on to note that “Nikolas benefits from verbal praise and positive reinforcements.”

Nikolas was eventually allowed to enrol in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in January 2016. During his first month there, he posted on Instagram that he planned to shoot up the school.

Nikolas did pass the tenth grade at Stoneman. He hoped to join the military and was a member of the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps there.

Things went very wrong for Nikolas at the start of the new school year. First, he was suspended for fighting. Then, just before his 18th birthday in September, a peer counselor warned that Nikolas tried to kill himself by ingesting gasoline, and said he wanted to buy a gun. Five days later, Nikolas was reported to the state for cutting his arms on the mobile app Snapchat.

“Mr. Cruz has fresh cuts on both his arms. Mr. Cruz stated he plans to go out and buy a gun. It is unknown what he is buying the gun for,” the DCF report reads.

He also had “hate signs” — including a Nazi symbol and the words “I hate N——” — drawn on his bookbag.

Nikolas stopped his mental health treatment in January 2017.  Very soon after his, Nikolas was expelled from Stoneman after he assaulted another student.  He was transferred to a new school on February 8, 2017.   On February 11, just three days later, he purchased the AR15 that would eventually be used in the mass shooting.

At the beginning of his senior year, commenter Nikolas wrote on a Mississippi video blogger’s YouTube page: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” The blogger alerted the FBI.

Zach has said that he would come home to see Nik walking around the house with his shotgun, pretending to shoot invisible people while he blared “Pumped Up Kicks,” a song about a boy’s fantasy of becoming a school shooter.

Once Zach snooped in Nik’s phone and found messages that seemed to show his brother talking to himself. “I’m gonna go to that school,” Nik wrote. “I’m gonna shoot everybody.” Zach didn’t tell any one.

In November 2017, Lynda died suddenly from pneumonia.  She went to a CVS with what she thought was the flu.  The clinic called an ambulance and sent her to the hospital, where she died.

Zachary and Nikolas were now orphans.  They moved in with a former neighbor Rocxanne Deschamps, but by November 29, Nikolas had been kicked o9ut.  Rocxanne called 911 on him and told police that he was not welcome back.

The Snead Family ended up taking Nikolas in.  Their son was friendly with Nikolas and they seemed to have quite strict rules. They made him enrol in classes and he got a job at a Dollar store.    The Snead’s said that Nikolas seemed down when he came to live with them, but the two weeks before the shooting, he told them he was happier than he’d ever been.

Shortly before the shooting, Nikolas made some videos of himself with his gun.  “With the power of my AR, you will know who I am,” he said. In one segment, he stated: “My life is nothing and meaningless. I live a lone life. I live in seclusion and solitude. I hate everyone and everything.”

On the afternoon of February 14, 2018  (just over 2 months since he started living with the Snead family),   Nikolas repeatedly tried to phone and text an ex-girlfriend but she told him to leave her alone and that she had a boyfriend. He responded, “You will always know I love you.”

Nikolas then caught an Uber to Stoneman Douglas.  He got out of the vehicle at 2.19pm, which was about 20 mins before the day was due to wrap up. 

He was carrying a rifle case and a backpack.  He was seen by two employees while he was walking into the school.  One ran and hid in a closet, while the other did not report the threat.

Nikolas entered Building 12, which was occupied by around 900 students and 30 teachers.  He started shooting at anyone in the corridors.  A fire alarm was triggered (either on purpose by Nikolas or from the smoke from the gun) and this caused confusion as there had been a fire drill earlier that day.

He killed three students in the hallway, then fired through the windows of four closed classroom doors, killing six more students and wounding thirteen others.

A lockdown was initiated at 2.21pm by a staff member who found the body of a victim and heard gunshots.

After killing two staff members near a stairwell, Nikolas went to the second floor, where he fired into two more classrooms but did not hit anyone. On the third floor, he shot and killed five students and another staff member, who all had been stranded in the hallway; four other students were injured. Next, he went into a teachers’ lounge where he attempted to shoot out the hurricane-resistant windows facing the yard in order to target students and staff fleeing below, but failed.

At 2.23pm, the school resource officer, Deputy Scot Peterson, issued a radio alert warning of shots fired. “Be advised we have possible — could be firecrackers. I think we have shots fired, possible shots fired, 1200 building,” he said.

At 2.32pm, Four Coral Springs police officers and two Broward County sheriff’s deputies entered the building for the first time.

After Nikolas stopped shooting (possibly because his rifle jammed), he dropped his rifle on the third floor of the building and left the scene by blending in with fleeing students. This was at around 2.50pm.  

He then walked to a Subway restaurant and got a soda before heading to a McDonald’s.  He sat down and left there at around 3.01pm.

Nikolas was arrested at 3.41pm by a Coconut Creek Police Officer.  He was found around 2 miles away from the school.  He was taken to hospital because he had ‘labored breathing’  but was released within 40 mins of arriving there.

At 6.27pm that evening, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel announced that 17 people were killed in the shooting.  He also announced that Nikolas was the main suspect.  

The fourteen students and three staff members killed were:

Alyssa Alhadeff, 14

Scott Beigel, 35

Martin Duque, 14

Nicholas Dworet, 17

Aaron Feis, 37

Jaime Guttenberg, 14

Chris Hixon, 49

Luke Hoyer, 15

Cara Loughran, 14

Gina Montalto, 14

Joaquin Oliver, 17

Alaina Petty, 14

Meadow Pollack, 18

Helena Ramsay, 17

Alex Schachter, 14

Carmen Schentrup, 16

Peter Wang, 15

The shooting lasted six minutes in total and all the fatalities occurred within four minutes.

Sheriff Scott Israel said that his office received 23 calls about Nikolas during the 10 years prior to the shooting.   CNN used a public records request to obtain a sheriff’s office log, which showed that from 2008 to 2017, at least 45 calls were made in reference to Nikolas or his family.

Nikolas was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and held without bond.

Nikolas was put in isolation on suicide watch after he was arraigned.

ikolas first appeared in court on February 15, 2018, the day after the shootings.

The public defender described him as a “deeply troubled child who has endured a lot of emotional trauma in a short period of time.”

He was indicted by a grand jury on March 7, 2018 on 34 charges –  17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder.

On March 13, the prosecution in the case filed their notice of intent to seek the death penalty.  They said they could prove five of the aggravating factors that qualify a murder for the death penalty in Florida.

Nikolas refused to enter a plea at this arraignment, so Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer entered a ‘not guilty’ plea on his behalf.  

Andrew Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack who was murdered by Nikolas said: “Death by injection would be too easy in my eyes,” I’d rather him rot in prison the rest of his life.”

On November 13, 2018, Nikolas attacked an officer in the jail where he was being held.  

He was charged with aggravated assault on an officer, battery on an officer and use of an “electric or chemical weapon against an officer’ following this incident. 

This info about the incident is from the Associated Press:

According to the assault arrest report, Cruz attacked Officer Beltran after he was told to “not drag his sandals around” while walking in a jail dayroom. Cruz responded, the report says, by showing Beltran his middle finger and then rushing the deputy and striking him with his fist.

The report says Cruz and Beltran then “got into a physical altercation” in which both wound up on the floor and Cruz was able to wrest control of the stun gun, technically called a “conducive electronic weapon.” The stun gun discharged but it’s not clear from the report whether it struck anyone; Beltran was able to regain control.

Beltran was struck multiple times by Cruz using his fists, according to video surveillance cited by the report.

Finally, the report says Beltran struck Cruz in the face with a fist containing the stun gun and Cruz then “retreated to one of the seats” in the dayroom before he was taken into custody.

The next step in the legal process occurred on April 24, 2019, more than one year after the shooting.

It was determined that Nikolas and Zachary would share the proceeds of a MetLife insurance policy valued at $864,929.  This meant that Nikolas no longer qualified for free legal counsel and the public defender’s office asked to be removed from the case.

In early August 2019, Nikolas’ taped confession was released to the public.  

There is almost 12 hours of footage. At one point, Nikolas tells the police that he’s “nothing but worthless s**t.”

At another point, you can see Nikolas pointing his fingers at his head — like a handgun — and saying, “Kill me.” He also starts sobbing.

Nikolas also told the police that he hears voices in his head that tell him to “burn, kill, destroy” — and he blames the voices for instructing him to pick out the gun that he used in the shooting.

Nikolas’ trial was scheduled to start on January 27, 2020.  But we all know what happened in 2020.  It was first delayed to give Nikolas’ legal team more time to prepare and then Covid delayed it further.

The second rescheduled date was September 2021.

That didn’t happen.

In October 2021, Nikolas pleaded guilty to all the charges against him, in an attempt to avoid the death penalty. He made a statement at this time in which he expressed regret for his crimes and asked the victims’ families to decide his fate.

“I am very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it every day,” he said, adding that he regularly has nightmares. “I am doing this for you, and I do not care if you don’t believe me. And I love you, and I know you don’t believe me.”

The judge asked Nikolas if he understood that faced a “minimum best-case scenario of life in prison.”.  He said that he understood. 

“This is what we refer to as a strategy decision,” Judge Scherer said. She later asked Nikolas if he believed it was in his best interest to waive his right to a jury trial and acknowledge guilt.

“Yes ma’am,” Nikolas said.

On October 20, Nicolas was also sentenced that day for his attack on Sgt. Beltran. He was given 26 years in prison for the assault charge.

Nikolas’ trial finally started on July 18, 2022. The jury consisted of seven men and five women, with ten alternates.

This info about the opening statements comes from the Associated Press:

Prosecutor Mike Satz called the murders cold, calculated, cruel and heinous, quoting the video Nikolas made three days before the shooting.

“This is what the defendant said: ‘Hello, my name is Nik. I’m going to be the next school shooter of 2018. My goal is at least 20 people with an AR-15 and some tracer rounds. It’s going to be a big event, and when you see me on the news, you’ll know who I am. You’re all going to die. Ah yeah, I can’t wait,’” Satz said.

Among the first witnesses was Danielle Gilbert, a junior who was in psychology class when the shooting began. The teacher told students to get behind her desk.

“We were sitting like sitting ducks. We had no way to protect ourselves,” said Gilbert, who is now a student at the University of Central Florida.

The jury was then shown cellphone video Gilbert took inside the classroom. The footage began with a girl curled up beneath the teacher’s desk and others, including Gilbert, mostly unseen as they crouch behind it. About two dozen shots that seemed to be coming from just outside the door are heard in rapid succession as the fire alarm sounds. An unseen wounded boy cries out twice, “Someone help me.”

The gunshots get further away, but the students remain quiet and huddled, speaking only in whispers. Eventually, the voices of police officers can be heard approaching. The teacher stands up, holding her head.

“They’re coming, they’re coming, we’re OK,” a boy whispers.

SWAT officers, carrying rifles, then burst in, wanting to know if anyone is hurt. The students point and Gilbert stands up with her camera. A wounded boy and girl are carried out. A dead girl lies in a pool of blood. The officers tell the students to run out. They passed two more bodies lying in the hallway before exiting into a parking lot.

From the back of the courtroom, a relative of a girl who died in that classroom yelled for prosecutors to turn it off before bailiffs asked the woman to be quiet. The defense requested a mistrial over the outburst, but it was denied.

Nikolas’ case was the first death penalty trial for Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer. The jurors will eventually vote 17 times, once for each of the victims, on whether to recommend capital punishment.

This is information about the death penalty voting process:

Every vote must be unanimous. A non-unanimous vote for any one of the victims means Nikolas’ sentence for that person would be life in prison. The jurors are told that to vote for the death penalty, the aggravating circumstances presented by the prosecution for the victim in question must, in their judgment, outweigh mitigating factors presented by the defense.

Regardless of the evidence, any juror can vote for life in prison out of mercy. During jury selection, the panelists said under oath that they are capable of voting for either sentence.

Digital evidence in the case was presented on July 27.

BSO Detective Nicholas Masters, of the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, said he examined the digital evidence. He said the records from Google show Nikolas regularly searched for information about massacres, killers, and weapons.

The 18-page list that was read in court included searches for “perfect murder weapon,” “how to become evil in society,” “Why I want to kill woman,” “how to become a school shooter,” “how to shoot at 500 yards,” “AR-15 tactical shooting,” and “pumped up kicks columbine high school.”

(For anyone who isn’t familiar with the lyrics to Pumped Up Kicks, it is a song about school shootings:

He found a six-shooter gun

In his dad’s closet, and with a box of fun things

I don’t even know what

But he’s coming for you, yeah, he’s coming for you

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks

You better run, better run outrun my gun

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks

You better run, better run faster than my bullet)

“I love to see to see the familyes suffer,” Nikolas wrote on YouTube on July 4, 2017.

Nikolas was also researching other massacres online.  He searched for the 1989 École Polytechnique shooting killing 14 in Canada, the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting killing 32, and the 2017 Las Vegas shooting killing 60.

About four months before the Parkland school massacre, Nikolas wrote, “I have no problem shooting a girl on the chest.”

The prosecution rested in this case on August 4, 2022.  They ended with friends and family of some of the victims speaking in court.

Chris Hixon was the wrestling coach and athletic director at Marjory Stoneman on the day of the shooting and he lost his life.  “I miss him,” said his son Corey Hixon, who has Down Syndrome.

“Every Saturday we went [for] doughnuts,” he said, while hugging his mother and crying.

His oldest son Thomas joined the U.S. Marine Corps and testified via Zoom Thursday about the ripple effect his father’s murder continues to have on family, friends, and the community.

“Even though he should still be here with us making memories, he will always be remembered for his courage, his bravery, his leadership, his humility, and his humor,” Thomas Hixon said.

The sentencing trial went into recess until Aug. 15 when lawyers were due to discuss what experts will be called to testify and what evidence will be presented in Nikolas’ defense.

The jury was scheduled to return Aug. 22.

On August 20, drawings that Nikolas made were released to the public.

This info about his ‘art’ is from Fox news:

Several drawings show automatic weapons and various ammunition. Others show monstrous faces, pentagrams and the words “Hail Satan!” On page after page, he scrawled three 6s — said to be the mark of the anti-Christ. He states he does not believe in a god, only the devil.

“I do not want to be bothered by anyone or anything. I can’t wait to die. Blood, blood. I only wanna see blood fall,” he wrote on one page, adding that he hopes there is another mass shooting.

At one point, he writes about his loneliness and his desire to be buried with a woman after his death.

On one page he scrawled the very issue at stake in his trial, where the jury will decide whether he will get the death penalty or spend the rest of his life in prison. He wrote: “I do not want life please help me go to death row!”

On August 22, Nikolas’ defence team began their argument in court.  

His lead attorney, Melisa McNeill, told the jury during her deferred opening statement that Nikolas has fetal alcohol and drug issues that weren’t dealt with adequately by Lynda.  She also said that Lynda suffered from severe depression and financial troubles after her husband died.  Melisa told the jury that doesn’t excuse what her 23-year-old client did, but are factors they should consider as her team presents its case over several weeks.

“He is a brain-damaged human,” she said.

“Everyone knows there is one person responsible for all that pain and all of that suffering, and that person is Nikolas Cruz,” she said. But she said that she hoped jurors would remember that the law “never requires you to vote for death,” not even “in the worst case imaginable, and it’s arguable that this is the worst case imaginable.”

The defense also spoke about Nikolas’ birth mother and the alleged start to life that he had.  They said that Brenda was a Fort Lauderdale prostitute who smoked crack cocaine and drank Colt 45 malt liquor and Cisco fortified wine during her pregnancy with him.

Carolyn Deakins, a former prostitute, testified that she and Brenda were drinking beer one day in 1998 when Brenda got sick. She thought it was because of drugs, but Brenda told her she was pregnant. Caroline told Brenda that she was harming her baby with drugs and drinking, but Brenda replied she was putting the child up for adoption and didn’t care.

Danielle Woodard, Nikolas’ half-sister also testified.  She said as a pre-teen she watched her mother regularly drink alcohol, smoke crack cocaine, and prostitute herself. She also recalled at least one instance, where her mom made her pee in a cup to pass a drug test during probation.

Danielle said that her mom’s addiction took priority over her children. Asked overall how Brenda was as a mother, Danielle replied with one word: “horrible.” 

“She had an addiction. She always put that first,” Danielle said.

Susan Lubar who had been Nikolas’ pre-school teacher also testified.  “Nikolas would push children, scratch at them, topple over furniture, he would stay away from other children and if they got too close, he would pounce,” she testified.

Nikolas’ legal defense was basically a circus.  On September 14, they abruptly rested their case, after calling just 26 witnesses.  They had originally planned to call 80.

“We were waiting for 40 more witnesses,” lead prosecutor Mike Satz saod/

Judge Elizabeth admonished the defense for “another day wasted” in a trial that has seen numerous delays and postponements.

“Even if you didn’t make your decision until this morning, to have 22 people, plus all of the staff and every attorney, march into court and be waiting as if it’s some kind of game – now I have to send them home,” she said. “The state’s not ready, they’re not going to have a witness ready. We have another day wasted.”

She also said his team exhibited a ‘level of unprofessionalism’ that she has never seen before.

“I honestly, I have never experienced (this) level of unprofessionalism in my career,” Judge Scherer said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Lead Attorney Melisa McNeil responded with: “You’re insulting me on the record in front of my client, and I believe that I should be able to defend myself,” the attorney said.

But the judge stopped her, saying, “You’ve been insulting me the entire trial, blatantly. Taking your headphones off, arguing with me, storming out, coming late intentionally if you don’t like my rulings. So, quite frankly, this has been long overdue.”

After the defense rested, the Judge asked Nikolas if he understood what that meant.  No more witnesses would be able to take the stand in his defense.

“Are you comfortable with the decision?” Judge Scherer asked.

“Yes,” Nikolas replied.

Another member of the defense’s legal team was captured on video, flipping the bird towards families of the victims. Tamara L Curtis is now subject of a “pending” investigation, the Florida Bar’s communications director Jennifer Krell Davis confirmed to Law&Crime.

Clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Robert Denney testified at the trial after spending more than 400 hours with Nikolas.

He said his diagnosis of Nikolas was borderline personality disorder and anti-social personality disorder.

He said that Nikolas did not meet the criteria for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.  He also said that Nikolas was responsible for “grossly exaggerating” his “psychiatric problems” in tests.

When read the list of names of the 17 people killed and asked if fetal alcohol spectrum disorder explained their murders, Dr Denney responded “no” each time.

During the trial, jurors also visited the scene of the massacre, which has remained sealed since the event.  The blood has never been cleaned up.  The doors were just closed and nothing has been touched since.  A lock of dark hair remains on the floor. Valentine’s Day gifts and cards are strewn about.

The prosecution’s rebuttal began on September 27, 2022 and ended on September 29, 2022. Closing arguments were delivered on October 11, 2022.

Prosecutors called again for the death penalty.

“What he wanted to do, what his plan was and what he did, was to murder children at school and their caretakers,” lead prosecutor Michael Satz. “That’s what he wanted to do.”

“And in a civilized humane society, do we kill brain damaged, mentally ill, broken people?” Nikolas’ attorney rebutted. “Do we? I hope not.”

“Hate is not a mental disorder,” Michael Satz said.

Teachers gathered in a classroom at Marjory Stoneman Douglas to watch as the verdict was handed down in the case.

It was decided that Nikolas should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  

The jury returned identical answers on aggravating and mitigating circumstances for each of the 17 counts and the same findings and recommendation for every victim.

On each count, the jury found Nikolas eligible for the death penalty based on aggravating circumstances – but did not unanimously find that those aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors.

We don’t know which exactly mitigating factors were in play in those discussions – but we do know which mitigating factors on Cruz’s life were presented at trial. The 41 factors were listed in the jury instructions, and included factors such as “Nikolas Cruz was exposed to drugs in utero,” “Medicated throughout his childhood,” “Nikolas Cruz witnessed the death of his father,” “Nikolas Cruz has remorse” and “Nikolas Cruz pled guilty and accepted responsibility for his crimes.”

The families of the victims were dismayed by the outcome.  

Tony Montalto, the father of victim Gina, said “Pressing the barrel of his weapon to my daughter’s chest and that doesn’t outweigh the poor little what’s-his-name had a tough upbringing? I mean society has to really look and re-examine who and what is a victim. Not everyone’s a victim. My beautiful Gina, the other sons and daughters, spouses and fathers — they were the victims here.”

“It’s pretty unreal that nobody paid attention to the facts of this case,” he added. “I see my beautiful daughter’s face around our home, in my dreams. And I miss her very much.”

Then he read a prepared statement on behalf of Stand With Parkland, an advocacy group he presides over.

“Today’s ruling was yet another gut punch for so many of us who devastatingly lost our loved ones on that tragic Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” he read. “Seventeen beautiful lives were cut short, by murder — heinous, pre-planned torturous murder. And the monster that killed them gets to live another day.”

“While this sentence fails to punish the perpetrator to the fullest extent of the law, it will not stop our mission of the families that stand with Parkland to effect positive change at a federal, state and local level to prevent school shooting tragedies from shattering other American families,” he added.

The parents of another victim, Alyssa Alhadeff spoke outside the court room.

“I’m disgusted with our legal system,” the visibly angry father said outside court. “I’m disgusted with those jurors.”

The father of Jaime Guttenberg said:

“There are 17 victims that did not receive justice today.”

Benjamin Thomas, the foreperson for the jury that recommended the Parkland school shooter be sentenced to life in prison, told CNN affiliate WFOR that three jurors voted against the death penalty.

“There was one with a hard ‘no,’ she couldn’t do it, and there was another two that ended up voting the same way,” said Thomas.

“(The hard no) didn’t believe because he was mentally ill he should get the death penalty.”

On November 2, 2022, Nikolas was officially sentenced to 34 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, one each for the total number of victims murdered and wounded.


Clips used in the podcast:

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