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Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz sentenced to life in prison

Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz sentenced to life in prison

Nikolas Cruz was 19 when he opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida

Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz has been sentenced to life in prison after killing 17 at a US high school in 2018.

Cruz was 19 when he opened fire at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Cruz, now aged 24, was handed his life sentence without parole today (Wednesday 2 November) by Judge Elizabeth Scherer, after a jury failed to reach the unanimity required to sentence him to death.

Families of the 17 victims were able to address Cruz directly before he was formally sentenced, with parents, wives, siblings and children all giving their victim impact statements.

Max Schachter, whose 14-year-old son Alex died when he was shot through a classroom window, said of his child's killer: “This creature has no redeemable value."

Nikolas Cruz in court last month.
Newscom/Alamy Stock Photo

Schachter added that it was his birthday, and that when he blew out the candles on his cake on Tuesday night, he would wish Cruz a painful death.

Debra Hixon's husband was athletic director Chris Hixon, who died running at Cruz to stop him before he was shot again and fell to the ground.

“You stole him from us, and you did not receive the justice that you deserved,” she said.

Some of the victims' families also took aim at Cruz's lawyers, accusing them of misleading three of the 12 jurors into believing his birth mother’s excessive drinking had left him brain damaged and unable to control himself.

Patricia Oliver - whose 17-year-old son Joaquin was wounded by Cruz before being tracked him into a bathroom alcove, where he was fatally shot in the head as he raised his hand to protect himself - said: “The legal system should protect and impart justice, justice, justice."

Judge Elizabeth Scherer.
REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photo

She added: "If this, the worst mass shooting to go to trial, does not deserve the death penalty, what does?”

Last month, many of the families were left disappointed after a jury recommended he be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Of the 12 jurors, just three voted against the death penalty, with jury foreman Benjamin Thomas telling WFOR: “I don’t like how it turned out but it’s that’s how the jury system works.”

Speaking outside the courtroom at the time, Tony Montalto, father of 14-year-old victim Gina, described the jury's decision as a 'gut punch', saying: "The monster that killed them gets to live to see another day.”

He continued: “This shooter did not deserve compassion. 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?”

Featured Image Credit: Newscom/REUTERS/Alamy

Topics: US News