Florida High School Shooter, Nikolas Cruz, Makes First Appearance in Court; Public Defenders Call him a ‘Broken Human Being’ Who Understands the ‘Magnitude of his Actions’

A cowering Nikolas Cruz (center, in orange) was ordered held without bond during his first court appearance on Thursday, where he was officially charges with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
A cowering Nikolas Cruz (center, in orange) was ordered held without bond during his first court appearance on Thursday, where he was officially charges with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

A cowering Nikolas Cruz was comforted by his public defender as he was ordered held without bail during his first court appearance on Thursday, in connection to the deadly shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school on Wednesday that left 17 dead and 14 injured.

The 19-year-old wore an orange jump suit and shackles on his wrists and ankles as he was officially charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

He kept his eyes down and didn’t speak in court today, other than to confirm his name with a polite ‘yes ma’am’ to the judge.

Standing next to him was his public defender, Melisa McNeil, who comforted him by putting a hand around his shoulder.

After the hearing, Cruz’s defense team revealed that he was on suicide watch and that he understood the magnitude of his actions.

McNeill told reporters gathered outside the courtroom that her client was sad and remorseful.

‘He’s sad. He’s mournful. He’s remorseful. He is fully aware of what is going on, and he’s just a broken human being,’ she said.

She became emotional while speaking to reporters, saying she’s fully aware of the impact the shooting has had on the community, as a parent herself.

‘I had to have the exact same conversation that every parent in Broward had to have with their children this morning, then I had to walk and meet with him,’ McNeill said. ‘I’m fully aware of the impact this has on the people who live here.

According to her LinkedIn, she has worked in the homicide division of the Broward public defender’s office since 2000.

Another member of the defense team, Gordon Weeks, was brought to tears as he addressed reporters, telling them that Cruz ‘recognizes’ what he has done and is ‘deeply sad’.

‘He is dealing with the shock of all this that’s going on,’ Weeks said.

McNeill and Weeks said that Cruz suffers from autism, depression and has dealt with significant psychological problems – all without the sort of support system that most people have.

‘When your brain is not fully developed, you don’t know how to deal with these things,’ McNeil said. ‘That’s the child I’m sitting across from.’

Weeks added: ‘The child is deeply troubled and he has endured significant trauma that stems from the loss of his mother.’

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has said she is ‘certain’ prosecutors will be seeking the death penalty for the teen shooter.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel revealed on Thursday afternoon that Cruz had tried to mix in with a group of students fleeing the school before stopping at fast food restaurants after the attack.

The sheriff said Cruz headed to a Wal-Mart and bought a drink at a Subway restaurant before walking to a McDonald’s. Cruz was confronted by a police officer and taken into custody about 40 minutes after leaving the McDonald’s.

Cruz was initially taken to the hospital to be treated for ‘labored breathing’.

He was soon released to the police who spent most of the night questioning Cruz, trying to make sense of the horrific school shooting – now the third deadliest in American history.

The fact that it was the 30th mass shooting so far this year has spurred activists to call on Congress again to revamp the nation’s gun control policies. President Trump, a staunch defender of the National Rifle Association, said at a press conference on Thursday that the real issue lawmakers need to tackle is mental health, not guns.

Meanwhile, details are starting to emerge about the shooter, who recently was orphaned, stopped getting mental health treatment about a year ago and even had ties to a white supremacist group.

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School painted the picture of a weird and disturbed teen who sold knives out of a lunchbox, bragged about killing animals and was finally kicked out of school for fighting and carrying bullets in his backpack.

An FBI official also said Thursday that they were warned – not once, but twice – about the shooter. One of the warnings came in September, from a bail bondsman in Mississippi who alerted the feds about an alarming online message Cruz wrote saying he was ‘going to be a professional school shooter’ 

Click here to continue reading…

SOURCE: AP / Daily Mail