Parkland shooter sentenced to life in prison confronted with victims’ relatives

Parkland shooter sentenced to life in prison confronted with victims’ relatives


The shooter, who killed 17 people in a high school shooting in 2018, was officially sentenced to life in prison in a Florida court on Wednesday, where he was verbally confronted by angry parents.

Nikolas Cruz, now 24, avoided the death penalty last month when a jury couldn’t unanimously agree that he deserved the death penalty for his killing spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Family members cried and held hands as Broward District Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who read 17 first-degree murder verdicts, said after each victim’s name that “the court imposed a mandatory life sentence with no possibility of parole.”

Cruz also received life sentences for each of the 17 people he wounded in the shooting.

The failure to carry out the death penalty has shocked and angered several families of the victims over the past month.

But during a two-day hearing that ended with Wednesday’s sentencing, several parents and other relatives of those killed were allowed to express their sadness and anger by reaching out directly to Cruz.

“I hope for you that the pain of what you did to my family burns and traumatizes you every day,” said Lori Alhadeff, whose 14-year-old daughter Alyssa was killed, in a National Public Radio commentary.

Cruz pleaded guilty in October 2021. In the subsequent three-month penalty phase of the trial earlier this year, the jury saw vivid footage of the attack, in which Cruz used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, and they heard harrowing testimonies from survivors.

During the trial, family members and survivors were not allowed to speak directly to Cruz. On Tuesday and Wednesday, according to NPR, they called him a monster and a “murdering bastard” who deserved to “burn in hell.”

In outright anger, some of them also angered the criminal justice system for sparing Cruz’s life, speaking to him from a lectern about twenty feet from the offender.

“The idea that you can actually live as a cold-blooded killer every day, eat your meals and put your head down at night seems utterly unfair,” said Stacey Lippel, a teacher who was wounded in the shooting, according to CBS News.

“The only consolation I have is that your life in prison will be filled with horror and fear.”

On February 14, 2018, then 19-year-old Cruz entered the school with a semi-automatic rifle. He had been expelled from the country a year earlier for disciplinary reasons.

In nine minutes, he killed 17 people and injured another 17.

Cruz fled by mingling with people desperate to escape the gory scene, but was arrested by police shortly after as he was walking down the street.

The Parkland shooting stunned the nation and reignited the gun control debate because Cruz legally purchased the gun, which he used despite his mental health issues.

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