A former student pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a February 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 and sparked a student-led movement for stricter gun control laws.
Nicolas Cruz, who was 19 at the time, took an AR-15 assault rifle legally purchased at his former school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and killed 17 students and staff members.
Cruz pleaded guilty in a packed Broward County courtroom to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder for those injured during the Valentine’s Day assault.
Cruz, who was wearing a blue-collar shirt and sweater vest and oversized glasses and a face mask, responded “guilty” as Judge Elizabeth Scherer read out each charge.
Cruz will now go before the jury for the penalty phase of the trial. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.
The attack was the worst school massacre in the United States since the 2012 horrors at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 26 people were killed.
The shooting in Florida stunned the nation and sparked new efforts for stricter gun control, led by school students – although the polarized US Congress has yet to implement meaningful gun reform.
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