Alleged Florida Shooter Nikolas Cruz Willing to Plead Guilty to Avoid Death Penalty: Report
Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old accused of opening fire inside of a Florida high school and killing 17 people on Wednesday, will plead guilty if the death penalty is taken off the table, according to his public defender.
Cruz’s attorney, Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, announced the news Saturday. Cruz is currently charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and is being held without bail.
"This is an opportunity to put the criminal case behind and help the victims' families begin to try and pick up pieces of their lives for our community to heal and to figure out how we stop these things from ever happening again," said Finkelstein.
Prosecutors said they aren’t ready to announce a formal decision on the matter, according to reports.
The state would have to agree to not seek capital punishment, but the office said they would come to a decision at the “appropriate time.”
"This certainly is the type of case the death penalty was designed for,” State Attorney Michael J. Satz said. "This was a highly calculated and premeditated murder of 17 people and the attempted murder of everyone in that school."
Authorities have not described a motive for Cruz’s alleged shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but the teen had reportedly been expelled from the school prior to the attack.
Three faculty members and 14 students were killed in what is now the eighteenth school shooting since the beginning of 2018.
FBI officials have since admitted that they received two tips that were related to Cruz ahead of the deadly massacre but failed to act on them.
On Jan. 5., the agency reportedly received a tip from a caller who provided information about "Cruz's gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,” CNN reported.
The information should have been assessed as a "potential threat to life," but the proper protocols weren't followed and the Miami office was not notified, the agency explained.
Cruz's next court date is Monday morning.