FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The brother of the confessed Parkland shooter walked out jail without saying a word – this after taking a plea deal during a bond hearing earlier in the day.
Zachary Cruz was arrested March 19th for trespassing onto Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the same school where his brother Nikolas Cruz opened fire, killing 17 people, according to authorities.
Thursday morning, attorneys for Zachary announced they had reached a plea agreement.
“Zachary would first like to apologize to anyone who felt scared or threatened by his presence on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas campus last week, he never meant to scare anyone,” said Cruz’s attorney Joseph Kimok at the start of the proceeding.
Under terms of the deal, Cruz pleaded no contest to trespassing on campus in exchange for his sentence being time served and six months probation.
“He is not to possess or own any firearms, ammunition, or weapons of any kind during his probation,” said Assistant State Attorney Sarahnell Murphy. “He is to have no return to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas campus and he is to remain 1 mile from that school.”
Cruz must also undergo mental health therapy.
After the agreement, Kimok read a statement that he and Cruz had drafted together. It distanced Zachary from his brother Nikolas and explained the loss he felt after his mother’s death and the school massacre.
“In February the only family member that he has left murdered 17 people in cold blood. Zachary was overcome with sorrow. Sorrow for the victims and the families, sorrow for his brother that he loves,” read Kimok from the statement.
He went on, “those who knew both Zachary and Nikolas know that Zachary Cruz is nothing like brother. He’s not bully, he’s not a violence. He has No interest in guns.”
Zachary’s attorneys had been working to have him released from Broward County Jail since his arrest 10 days before, calling the $500K bond amount “unreasonable and outrageous.”
While he’s happy he’s out of jail, his attorney said he should have never been there in the first place, if they had kept his bond at $25. Kimok argues that only happened because he’s the brother of the confessed school shooter.
“Whether the bond is 100 dollars or half million dollars to set a bond so high that it forces you to plea guilty to get out of jail is immoral and unconstitutional. Zachary should have been released last Monday when that 25 dollar bond was posted,” said Kimok.
Prosecutors argued the high bond amount was reasonable given that Zachary had made concerning comments regarding his brother.
Thursday, outside the courtroom, Kimok made it clear that Cruz was happy to be out and there one only one reason he accepted the plea deal.
“It’s a frustrating day for justice. Zachary Cruz pled to this case to get out of jail and the reason he was in jail is because he had a half million dollar bond, a judge set a half million dollar bond on a trespass case,” he said.
Following his arrest, the Broward Sheriff’s Office filed a petition in civil court trying to prevent Zachary from getting his hands on a gun. In the petition, BSO says Cruz visited the school twice that day and “…walked around freshman building” – the same building where his brother opened fire, according to authorities.
Investigators said Cruz told them he wanted to reflect on the shooting and take it all in.
According to the petition, Cruz admitted he visited the campus three times since the deadly shooting. BSO said Cruz had no reason to be on school property even after being warned that he was not allowed on campus.
The petition says Cruz has shown, “a pattern of violent and combative behavior over the past 6 years.” Information released by BSO shows at least 23 calls for service to the Cruz home for Nikolas and Zachary Cruz dating back to 2008. The calls for Zachary related to domestic disturbance calls for hitting things…leaving home and causing trouble for his mother.