FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case of self-confessed Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz, the Broward State Attorney says.
The announcement came down Tuesday afternoon when they filed a Notice of Intent in his case.
Authorities say Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, killing 17 people including students and staff.
There was a swift reaction to the announcement from a group of 2015 Stoneman Douglas graduates who had stopped by the school.
Ashley Majerus told CBS4’s Peter D’oench, “To go to a school and takes lives like that, it just can’t happen. It was so sad.”
Raina Scala said, “Someone coming here with a gun had no right to be here.”
Another 2015 graduate, Ashley Garrett, said, “To come to a school and take lives like that it makes the death penalty seem acceptable in this case. Nick Varia added, “I just think he had no remorse and he destroyed all those lives.”
9th grader Nelson Laboy said he opposed the death penalty. “I hope he does not get it,” he said. “If he does get it, he will be dead. I think he should rot in jail every day for the rest of his life and think about what he did.”
Laboy said he will never forget what he witnessed on the day of the shooting.
“I was scared,” he said. “I heard gunshots and screaming and the sound of people dropping. It was like something out of a horror movie.”
The announcement comes days after Cruz appeared in court to hear the new charges against him — an additional 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder, the result of a grand jury indictment filed Friday. Cruz also faces 17 counts of first-degree premeditated murder.
That means Cruz faces 17 counts of first-degree murder for the taking the lives of students, teachers, and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for leaving another group of people wounded.
Cruz is still being held without bond. Cruz is set to return to court Wednesday to be formally arraigned on the new charges.
Broward County Public Defender Howard Finklestein said there were so many warning signs that Cruz was mentally unstable and potentially violent that “the death penalty might be going too far.”
He said Cruz is immediately ready to plead guilty at the hearing on Wednesday in return for 34 consecutive life sentences. The Broward State Attorney’s office is not commenting on camera.