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Public Defender Puts Arm Around Florida Gunman In Court

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On February 14th, the state of Florida was victim to a tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, killed 17 people and injured 14, CNN reports. The following Thursday, the Florida gunman began his journey through the criminal justice system.

Cruz was officially charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He was also not awarded any bail by the judge as well. After the hearing, Cruz’s defense attorney, Melisa McNeil, told reporters that Cruz feels sad, remorseful and mournful, according to the Daily Mail.

McNeil and Gordon Weekes, another member of Cruz’s defense team, confirm that Cruz suffers from depression, autism, and has dealt with other psychological issues. Weekes adds that Cruz is deeply troubled and believes that the teenager has suffered significant trauma that comes from the loss of his mother.

This Is What We Know About Nikolas Cruz: According to the Anti-Defamation League, Cruz hurled slurs at Muslims and black people and he had certain ties to white supremacists. They also report that Cruz said that he wanted to shoot people with his AR-15, the gun that was used in the shooting. CNN states that there were posts under videos on Youtube and other sites by someone that used the name Nikolas Cruz that included threatening comments. Some of the comments included “I wanna shoot people with my AR-15” and “I wanna die Fighting killing s**t ton of people.”

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In September of 2017, a video blogger, Ben Bennight, apparently warned the FBI about a possible shooting threat from one of the Youtube users with the same name as Cruz. One FBI agent confirms that a field officer in Jackson, Mississippi interviewed the person who gave the tip. Unfortunately, there was no additional information found on the person who posted the threatening comment.

Florida gunmanDaily Mail

This Is What We Know About the Shooting: CNN reports that an Uber driver dropped Cruz at the school at 2:19 p.m. and he proceeded to walk through the east stairwell of the school at 2:21 p.m. According to the local law enforcement timeline, Cruz was carrying his rifle in a black case. Cruz activated the fire alarm at some point in order to get everyone out of the classrooms. Some students were confused when they heard the fire alarm because the school had already done a fire drill earlier that day. Cruz started roaming the halls on the first floor and targeted students who were huddled up in classrooms before he went to the second floor. Some students were texting goodbye to loved ones while this was happening. Others were posting images on social media. One student, Kelsey Friend, said that she heard her teacher get shot in the doorway while she and the rest of her classmates hid near the teacher’s desk.

Florida gunmannews.sky.com

After Cruz was finished, he dropped his rifle and backpack on the third floor of the school and ran out of the building to blend in with the evacuating crowd. According to the timeline, Cruz went to a Subway sandwich store and bought a drink before he went to McDonald’s and sat down for a few minutes. Cruz was identified thanks to school security videos by investigators and a Coral Springs officer detained Cruz when he saw him walking along the side of a road.

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Gun Control Debate: According to Senator Chris Murphy, Congress bears the responsibility for the epidemic of mass slaughters in the United States. He says that it’s not a coincidence that these shootings keep happening, it’s because of Congress’ inaction. Murphy, who is Connecticut Democrat, has been a supporter of gun control legislation for years. He represented the state when the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred in 2012, killing 20 children. This is not the first time Murphy has criticized fellow members of Congress before, he also did so when the biggest mass shooting in modern American history occurred in Las Vegas in October 2017.

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Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with the timing of Murphy’s comments. House Speaker Paul Ryan argues that this is not the right time to have a political battle regarding gun laws. He told reporters at a news conference at the Capitol that everyone needs to take a step back from fighting each other and just try to pull together as a country. Ryan also reminded the reporters that the Republican-controlled House passed a bill that helps fill the holes in the Criminal Background Check System. The bill ensures that there will be more distinct reporting from states and the military of people with domestic convictions, according to CNN.

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More Background On Nikolas Cruz: Cruz was an adopted child, and his adopted mother, Lynda Cruz, passed away in November 2017. Kimberly and James Snead took Cruz into their home and let him stay there for three months before this shooting occurred. According to Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, Cruz was suspended from the school he opened fire on because of disciplinary problems. He didn’t give specifics. According to CNN, Broward Sheriff’s deputies were called to the Cruz family home a total of 39 times since 2010. Some of the calls were for a mentally ill person, child/elderly abuse, domestic disturbance and a missing person.

Sun Sentinel

Beam Furr, who is the Broward County Mayor, says that Cruz was getting treatment at a mental health clinic for a long time, but he had not been back to the clinic in over a year, according to Daily Mail.

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