Orange County Register: Families Express Anger, Grief Over Parkland School Killer
On Tuesday, the families of the 17 victims of the Parkland school shooting, Nikolas Cruz, spoke to him directly for the first time before he is given a life sentence in jail. They damned him to hell, wished him a horrible death, and branded him a coward.
Parents, wives, siblings, kids, and some of the 17 Cruz victims who were also injured on Valentine’s Day 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School stood 20 feet away from him for hours. They delivered strong, furious, and occasionally heartbreaking statements while looking the killer in the eye. The majority lamented the fact that his jury could not agree unanimously to give him a death sentence.
Alex Schachter, 14, was shot through a classroom window and died. His father Max Schachter remarked of the beast, “This thing has no redeemable value.” Speaking to Cruz while keeping his identity a secret, he expressed his wish that “other prisoners you will encounter in your new life would inflict that misery onto you, hopefully, 17 times over, until you are scream[ing] for mercy, just like your victims.”
As it was his birthday, Schachter declared that he would wish Cruz a terrible death on Tuesday night when he blew out the candles on his cake and that he would do it every year until it actually happens.
Some of the families assaulted Cruz’s public defenders vocally, claiming they had misled three of the jury’s twelve members into thinking that Cruz’s birth mother’s binge drinking had left him brain damaged and unable of self-control. At least one parent included the attorneys’ children in their want for their consciences to always plague them and cause them to feel the misery they had.
Patricia Oliver leaned over the podium toward the defense attorneys and said, “The judicial system should protect and transmit justice, justice, justice.” She called their conduct “shameful, horrible.” Cruz shot her son Joaquin, 17, in the leg before pursuing him into a bathroom nook. Cruz shot her son in the head there, killing him as he lifted his hand to defend himself.
What else merits the death penalty, she questioned, if this, the worst mass massacre to go to trial?
Later, lead defense attorney Melissa McNeill pleaded before Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer to prevent the families from directly criticizing her and her team, claiming they had defended Cruz within the bounds of his constitutional rights.
When McNeill responded, “I performed my job, and every member of my team did our job, and we should not personally be targeted for that, nor should our children,” the families murmured in agreement. According to the state constitution and prosecutor Carolyn McCann, the victims have the right to “speak themselves and be heard.”
When McNeill attempted to react to McCann by informing the judge that she was aware the parents were acting improperly in court, Scherer cut her off. Since the pretrial proceedings, the two have had a tense and occasionally combative relationship.
Scherer interrupted, claiming she had heard enough and to stop implying that she was aware of something being wrong. She didn’t do anything to the families.
Cruz is not anticipated to speak, according to his attorneys. After pleading guilty to the murders and attempted murders, he apologized in court last year, but the families of the victims told reporters they believed the apology was intended to win their sympathy. During his seven-minute assault, which he had prepared for seven months, he fired 140 rounds.
That admission paved the way for a three-month punishment trial that ended on October 13 with a jury verdict of death by a vote of 9 to 3. According to the jury, those who voted for life thought Cruz was mentally ill and should be spared. A death sentence in Florida must be unanimous.
Due to that, the relatives and living victims were able to convey their real emotions throughout the current hearing.
Chris Hixon, the athletic director, died when he ran at Cruz to stop him. His wife, Debra Hixon, stated, “You stole him from us, and you did not receive the justice that you deserved.” After he collapsed to the ground wounded, Cruz fired again. “You’ll go to jail, start serving your sentence, become a number, and stop existing for me,” the speaker said.
— The father of student Ben Wikander, who has had seven operations to treat his wounds, stated, “We hope that you, the monster who did this to our son, experience a horrible existence in your remaining days.”
Stacey Lippel, a teacher who was hurt, remarked, “I check for all exits everywhere I go because of you. “I consider the worst-case situation for myself and my family because of you. I’ll never feel safe again because to you. I can’t forgive you from the bottom of my heart.
Cruz allegedly fired 140 bullets into classrooms and through halls using an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, according to the prosecution. After they collapsed, he shot some of the injured victims to death. Cruz claimed that he selected Valentine’s Day to prevent its recurrence at Stoneman Douglas.