School Shooting Suspect Indicted on 17 Counts of Murder

Could mean a death sentence if Cruz is convicted.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was formally charged Wednesday with 17 counts of first-degree murder, which could mean a death sentence if he is convicted.

The indictment returned by a grand jury in Fort Lauderdale also charges the 19-year-old with 17 counts of attempted murder for the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in which 17 people died and more than a dozen others were wounded

Cruz’s public defender has said he will plead guilty if prosecutors take the death penalty off the table, which would mean a life prison sentence. The Broward County state attorney has not announced a decision on the death penalty

Jail records released by the Broward Sheriff’s Office show Cruz was being held in solitary confinement. Officers described Cruz as being cooperative but avoiding eye contact.

The report said Cruz “often sits with a blank stare,” appeared to laugh and exhibited “awkward” behavior during and after a visit with an attorney and had one “family visit.” Officers said Cruz also requested a Bible to read in his single-person cell in the infirmary.

In Tallahassee, the Florida House was expected to vote on gun legislation stemming from the school shooting.

The legislation would put some restrictions on rifle sales, provide new mental health programs for schools and improve communication between school districts, law enforcement and state agencies. Democrats’ efforts failed Tuesday to strip the bill of language that would create a program to arm some teachers and school employees who complete law enforcement training.

Two parents who lost children in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings told reporters that all the families of Parkland victims want the legislation to succeed.

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