Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz gets life in jail

Cruz

Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP Photo

 

Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland school shooter, was sentenced to life in prison.
A US judge condemns Nikolas Cruz to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, in which 17 people were killed.

A gunman who opened fire at a high school in Parkland, Florida in 2018, killing 17 and injured 17 more, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release, concluding two days of emotional comments from the victims' families.

In October, a jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on whether 24-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who was 19 at the time of the assault, merited the death penalty. Wednesday's punishment, given down by Judge Elizabeth Scherer, was a foregone conclusion, though.

They voted 9-3 in favor of his death, falling short of the statutory requirement and instead recommending life in prison without the possibility of parole.

While the topic has divided Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School survivors and the families of the murdered, many have warned Cruz that he has prevented true justice in the case.

Meghan Petty stated, "He evaded this penalty because a minority of the jury was granted the authority to override the majority decision reached by individuals who were able to recognize him for what he truly is: a remorseless monster who deserves no pity."

During the incident on February 17, 2018, Cruz killed Alaina Petty, 14, by firing more than 140 bullets from an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon.


She was among a number of family members who took the lectern in the courthouse just six metres (20 feet) away from the convicted attacker for the first time.

Ines Hixon, whose father-in-law, school athletics director Chris Hixon, was slain in the attack, stated, "I wish you no peace." "I seek nothing but suffering. And I pray that every breath you take reminds you that it is one you stole."

Others refrained from appearing at the hearings, like Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the shooting, who tweeted, "It won't alter reality or how I feel."

"I will continue to visit Jaime in the grave, and the fate of the monster will not alter. It is already determined."

The attack and Cruz's arrest an hour later kicked off the nearly four-and-a-half-year drama that culminated with the sentencing.

Cruz pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder in 2021, with his defense contending during his sentencing hearing that his mother's drug and alcohol abuse had caused lifelong brain damage.

During the two days of hearings, Cruz, who was handcuffed and clad in a red jail jumpsuit, stared quietly at the speakers while displaying no emotion.


The judge praised the testifying families and wounded, calling them courageous, dignified, and patient. "I know you will be okay because you have each other," stated Scherer.


The attack sparked a revitalized youth gun control campaign in the United States, which has the highest rate of private gun ownership in the world and where school shootings and mass shootings have become commonplace.

Several survivors of the attack were major proponents of a federal gun safety measure that provided states with cash for crisis intervention and increased a restriction on gun ownership for domestic violence offenders.

The act was the first gun control measure passed by the federal government in decades, but advocates viewed it as a small win, as efforts for further limits, such as a ban on assault weapons, continued to fail.

In March, the Federal Bureau of Investigation agreed to pay nearly $130 million to resolve multiple lawsuits alleging that the government failed to investigate Cruz-related tips prior to the attack. The FBI stated that the payments were not an admission of guilt.

The attack sparked a revitalized youth gun control campaign in the United States, which has the highest rate of private gun ownership in the world and where school shootings and mass shootings have become commonplace.


Several survivors of the attack were major proponents of a federal gun safety measure that provided states with cash for crisis intervention and increased a restriction on gun ownership for domestic violence offenders.

The act was the first gun control measure passed by the federal government in decades, but advocates viewed it as a small win, as efforts for further limits, such as a ban on assault weapons, continued to fail.

In March, the Federal Bureau of Investigation agreed to pay nearly $130 million to resolve multiple lawsuits alleging that the government failed to investigate Cruz-related tips prior to the attack. The FBI stated that the payments were not an admission of guilt.

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