News Reactions as Jury recommends life in prison for Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz
Families of Victims expressed shock and anger after a jury on Thursday recommended Parkland School Shooter Nikolas Cruz get life in prison for killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, sparing Cruz from a death sentence.
How the Parkland School Shooting Unfolded
The shooting took place during the afternoon of February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, an affluent suburb about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Fort Lauderdale and 45 miles (72 km) northwest of Miami. According to a police report, the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was carrying a rifle case and a backpack. He was spotted and recognized by a staff member who radioed a colleague that he was walking “purposefully” toward Building 12. However, he did not pursue the shooter or call a “Code Red” to lock down the school. The first staff member later claimed that his training called for only reporting threats; his colleague hid in a closet.
Cruz entered Building 12,[note 3] a three-story structure containing 30 classrooms typically occupied by about 900 students and 30 teachers. Armed with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle[note 4] and multiple magazines, Cruz entered a hallway and began firing indiscriminately at students and teachers. A fire alarm went off (either pulled by Cruz or activated by smoke from the gunfire), causing confusion because there had been a fire drill earlier in the day. Cruz first killed three students in the hallway, then fired through the windows of four closed classroom doors, killing six more students and wounding thirteen others. Students were unable to seek shelter at “hard corners”—areas of a classroom that people could safely hide at if a gunman peered through the window of a door—because many of the classrooms in Building 12 lacked one, and furniture otherwise obstructed potential safe spaces. Two of those killed were students in Ivy Schamis’ Holocaust History class; Schamis was teaching a class lesson on combating hate when Cruz fired shots into her classroom. Around five students from Schamis’ class were injured. According to Schamis, Cruz was unaware he was shooting into a class on the Holocaust, even though he had scrawled swastikas onto the ammunition magazines that he left at the school.
As the shooting unfolded, a “Code Red” was still not called due to confusion among school employees over who had the authority to do so. At about 2:21 p.m., a staff member eventually activated a lockdown, but only after discovering the body of a victim and hearing gunfire. An armed school resource officer of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office was on campus when the shooting broke out, and he remained outside between Building 12 and the adjacent Building 7.
Cruz during his arrest in Coral Springs
After killing two staff members near a stairwell, Cruz went to the second floor, where he fired into two more classrooms but did not hit anyone. On the third floor, he shot and killed five students and another staff member, who all had been stranded in the hallway; four other students were injured. Next, he went into a teachers’ lounge where he attempted to shoot out the hurricane-resistant windows facing the yard in order to target students and staff fleeing below, but failed.
After he stopped shooting (possibly because his rifle jammed), Cruz dropped his rifle on the third floor of the building and left the scene by blending in with fleeing students. He then walked to a fast-food restaurant, stopping at a mall to get a soda on the way, and lingered before leaving on foot at 3:01 p.m. At about 3:40 p.m., police stopped Cruz 2 miles (3.2 km) from the school in the Wyndham Lakes neighborhood of Coral Springs and arrested him as the suspected shooter. He was then taken to a hospital emergency room with “labored breathing.”[note 5] After 40 minutes, Cruz was released back into police custody and booked into the Broward County Jail.
The shooting lasted for about six minutes in total, and all of the victims were shot within just under four minutes. School surveillance camera video showed Cruz as the shooter, and he was also recognized by eyewitnesses. While SWAT paramedics were inside the building, additional paramedics from the local Fire-Rescue department repeatedly requested to enter the building. These requests were denied by the Broward Sheriff’s Office, even after the suspect was arrested.