At least 17 students and staff members were killed in the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting in 2018, and Nikolas Cruz, the alleged shooter, was formally sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday.
After listening to hours of testimony from the victims’ families, Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer sentenced the 24-year-old Cruz who carried out one of the bloodiest mass shootings in US history.
The defense claimed that the former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student’s mother’s drug and alcohol use had permanently altered his brain, leading to his plea of guilty to the assault last year. Cruz reportedly spent over seven minutes inside the school firing more than 140 shots from a semi-automatic rifle in the AR-15 model.
Cruz hardly spoke at all during the hearing and only addressed the court in response to inquiries about the case. He sat through the two-day hearing in red prison overalls, handcuffs, and a Covid-19 mask, which he subsequently took off after one of the victims’ mothers objected to it being disrespectful.
The judge praised the victims’ families, the injured, and Cruz for their strength, grace, and patience, but did not engage Cruz in conversation beyond what was necessary. “I know you are going to be OK because you have each other,” she continued.
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