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November 2, 2022

WATCH: Parkland Victim’s Grandma Tells Gunman to “Burn in Hell”

The sentencing hearing for the gunman in the February 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting began on Tuesday, with the victims’ families giving emotional addresses to the shooter.

Nikolas Cruz, 24, fatally shot 14 students and three staff members and wounded 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018. Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. He evaded the death penalty under Florida law, with a jury recommending that he be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On Tuesday, survivors and family members of those killed in the shooting gave powerful statements to Cruz in a Fort Lauderdale court before the sentence is formally announced.

Many victims’ family members expressed outrage at the jury’s verdict, arguing that Cruz’s heinous crimes warranted the death penalty.

Terri Rabinovitz, grandmother of 14-year-old victim Alyssa Alhadeff, told Cruz that he should “write a book on how you and your defense counsel beat the judicial system and got away with murder.”

“I’m too old to see you live out your life sentence, but I hope your every breathing moment here on earth is miserable and you repent for your sins, Nikolas, and burn in hell,” Rabinovitz said.

Patricia Oliver, mother of 17-year-old victim Joaquin, delivered an impassioned statement, saying that if this case “doesn’t deserve the death penalty, what does?”

“You had in your head enjoyment,” Oliver said directly to Cruz. “Listen to me, defendant — enjoyment while killing my son, Joaquin Oliver, and coming back to him to blow his brain out.”

“Your living hell is about to get started,” she said. “Joaquin is a legend for what he is and for what he will be. Nice, kind, humble. And you will remember every single day of your life about what Joaquin is.”

Max Schachter, father of 14-year-old victim Alex, accused Cruz’s attorneys of “making the mental health crisis in America worse by misrepresenting what actually happened to the Parkland murderer.”

“The defense, in their closing argument, said if he had just had the proper diagnosis, things would be different,” Schachter said. “Nothing would’ve changed. … He was on medicine after medicine … and he still wants to kill.”

Schachter said Cruz grew up “in a loving home” raised by a mother who tried to help him.

“He had well over 200 individual sessions with mental health professionals. … They tried everything, they couldn’t have given him more services,” he continued.

“But you can’t fix evil.”

“He hunted down innocent children and staff, terrified then tortured them, blew their heads apart like a water balloon and enjoyed it,” Schachter said, adding that Cruz “does not deserve to live amongst us.”

Schachter said, while incarcerated, Cruz “gets to receive phone calls, boxes of fan mail. He gets to fall in love and get married. He gets a tablet to email and text people. He gets to receive visitors. He gets to watch TV … and even get a college degree.”


Sources: ABC News | NBC News

Photo: Screenshot from ABCNews.com

October 14, 2022

DeSantis Slams Jury’s Decision: “You Deserve the Death Penalty”

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY…
1982: U.S. President Ronald Reagan proclaims a war on drugs.

The gunman in the 2018 Parkland school shooting has avoided the death penalty after a jury recommended that he be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole — a decision that was rebuked by some of the victims’ family members and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

On Thursday, the jury handed down its recommendation for Nikolas Cruz’s punishment for the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead. However, it is not the official sentence. Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer is expected to issue the shooter’s formal sentence on November 1. But under Florida law, she cannot depart from the jury’s recommendation of life without parole.

Family members quickly condemned the jury’s decision.

“I am disgusted with our legal system. I am disgusted with those jurors,” said Ilan Alhadeff, the father of victim Alyssa Alhadeff, 14. “That you can allow 17 dead and 17 others shot and wounded and not give the death penalty. What do we have the death penalty for? What is the purpose of it? You set a precedent today. You set a precedent for the next mass killing, that nothing happens to you. You’ll get life in jail. I’m sorry – that is not OK. As a country we need to stand up and say that’s not OK!”

Tony Montalto, whose 14-year-old daughter Gina was killed in the shooting, called the decision a “gut punch” for the victims’ families.

“This shooter did not deserve compassion,” Montalto said. “Did he show the compassion to Gina when he put the weapon against her chest and chose to pull that trigger, or any of the other three times that he shot her? Was that compassionate?”

The decision was also rebuked by DeSantis, who said that the death penalty would have been more appropriate.

“I think that if you have a death penalty at all, that that is a case, where you’re massacring those students, with premeditation and utter disregard for humanity, that you deserve the death penalty,” DeSantis told reporters. “I just don’t think anything else is appropriate except a capital sentence in this case. And so, I was very disappointed to see that.”

“This stings. It was not what we were hoping for…if that would’ve gone the correct way, I would’ve done everything in my power to expedite that process forward,” he added. “Nevertheless, we are where we are today. But it is disappointing nonetheless.”

Last October, Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. The defense had argued that Cruz, 24, had neurodevelopmental disorders caused by prenatal alcohol exposure.

Prosecutors had asked the jury to sentence the shooter to death, arguing that the heinous act was premeditated and calculated, and not related to any neurological defects.

Debra Hixon, the widow of the school’s athletic director, 49-year-old Christopher Hixon, rejected the defense’s arguments about the shooter’s mental struggles, citing one of her sons who has special needs.

“I have a son that checked … a lot of those boxes that the shooter did as well,” Hixon said. “And you know what? My son’s not a murderer. My son’s the sweetest person that you could ever meet.”


Sources: NPR | Fox News | CNN

December 5, 2021

Parkland Student Arrested after Shooting Threat

A South Florida teenager has been arrested after authorities learned he made a threat against Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of a mass shooting that killed 17 people in 2018.

According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, a caller reported seeing the threat late Wednesday night. Officials said the student sent a text message to his classmates in a social media chat room shortly after 9 p.m. on Wednesday.

The threat came one day after a student opened fire at Oxford High School in Michigan.

“I feel like school shooting tmrw (tomorrow). When I sneeze it’s a signal go to the bathroom OK. I hope y’all aren’t snitches,” the text message read, according to an affidavit.

The sheriff’s office said the 17-year-old high school junior was charged with one count of writing a threat to conduct a mass shooting.

The teen’s mother told local media that he didn’t mean it. She said that to him, it was a joke. At the time of the Parkland massacre, she said, they lived in another country that didn’t have gun violence in its schools.

“He’s a normal kid from a normal family and a safe environment. He doesn’t realize the world is not so safe,” she said. “It’s not an excuse for his behavior. It’s just an explanation for his behavior. All threats must be investigated. I understand that.”

Source:

Parkland, Florida student arrested in school shooting threat

November 28, 2021

Families of Parkland Victims Receive $130M Settlement

Families of victims of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., reached a settlement with the Justice Department in their lawsuit over the FBI’s failure to act on tips about the gunman.

NPR reported that the settlement totals around $130 million.

The shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018, where former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire, killing 17 people and injuring at least 17 others.

In their suit, the families accused the FBI of negligence, saying the bureau failed to act on tips it received about Cruz, including his amassing of weapons and his desire to shoot up a school.

Weeks before the shooting, a tipster told the FBI that Cruz “was going to slip into a school and start shooting the place up.”

“Although no resolution could ever restore what the Parkland families lost, this settlement marks an important step toward justice,” said Kristina Infante, the lead attorney for the families.

Cruz pleaded guilty last month. He’s still awaiting sentencing.

Source:

Families of Parkland shooting victims settle lawsuit with DOJ for about $130 million

October 20, 2021

Families of Parkland victims receive $25 million settlement

In Florida, the Broward County school district reached a $25 million settlement with the families of the victims of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

The settlement will go to 17 families that filed wrongful death lawsuits, 16 surviving victims, and a separate 19 victims who now have post-traumatic stress disorder. The parties are still finalizing the settlement.

“There isn’t enough money in existence that would compensate the victims and their families adequately,” attorney David Brill said in a statement. “But this settlement provides a measure of justice and accountability to them and the other families and victims.”

News of the settlement comes as the alleged shooter faces over 30 charges stemming from the February 2018 shooting.

Nikolas Cruz reportedly plans to plead guilty to 17 counts of murder and another 17 counts of attempted murder, punishable by the death penalty or life in prison.

Source:

Families of Parkland shooting victims reach $25 million settlement with school district

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