The Parkland school shooter acted casually after fleeing

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida school gunman Nikolas Cruz casually walked into a sandwich shop minutes after he murdered 14 students and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland four years ago, ne Showing no signs of stress or nervousness, video played during his penalty trial on Thursday showed.

Cruz then walked to a nearby McDonald’s, where, coincidentally, he unsuccessfully sought a ride from the brother of a girl he had seriously injured. The boy didn’t know who Cruz was.

Thursday’s abridged hearing focused on Cruz’s escape attempt after the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting and his arrest, about an hour after he fled campus. The mostly low-key testimony and evidence contrasted with the previous three emotional days, which covered the seven minutes Cruz stalked a three-story classroom while firing his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle into classrooms. classroom and crowded hallways.

After the shooting, Cruz fled the building, wearing a burgundy Stoneman Douglas Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps shirt — of which he was a member when he attended school — and a New York City Police Department cap. York.

The former Stoneman Douglas student mixed with students evacuating the campus and drove to a nearby Walmart, where security video shows that 25 minutes after he stopped shooting, he turned into a Subway sandwich shop inside the entrance.

Store manager Carlos Rugeles testified that Cruz ordered a cherry and blue raspberry Icee. The video shows that when Cruz got his drink and change, he tossed the coins into the tip jar, stuck a straw in the lid, and walked out.

Eight minutes later, Cruz walked into a nearby McDonald’s, still drinking his Icee, store video shows. He rode in a cabin with John Wilford, then a freshman at Stoneman Douglas, who did not know him.

Wilford testified that he didn’t know exactly what had happened at the school, but after he evacuated he tried to call his older sister Maddy – he didn’t know she had been seriously injured by this foreign. Since he couldn’t reach her, he called his mother, who said she would pick him up.

He then tried to make conversation with Cruz.

“I said to him, ‘It’s so chaotic, it’s crazy with all these helicopters and squad cars. What do you think it could be?'” Wilford recalled. “He didn’t say much. He had his head down.”

A minute later, Wilford went to join his mother in the parking lot. Cruz followed and asked for a ride, but Wilford said no.

“He was quite insistent on that. I didn’t really think about it much. I just wanted to go home and my sister wasn’t answering the phone,” Wilford said.

Cruz left. He was arrested about half an hour later by Michael Leonard, an officer with the nearby Coconut Creek Police Department. Leonard testified that he drove through neighborhoods looking for anyone matching the description of the shooter.

The officer was 5 kilometers from the school and was about to return when he saw Cruz walking down a residential street. He said he stopped and Cruz looked at him. He took out his weapon and ordered Cruz to get down. Cruz ran.

A search found $350 in Cruz’s pocket.

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October to 17 counts of first-degree murder. The jury only has to decide whether he should be sentenced to death or life without parole for the nation’s deadliest mass shooting to stand before a jury.

Nine other gunmen who killed at least 17 people died during or immediately after their shooting, either by suicide or by police gunfire. The suspect in the 2019 murder of 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, is awaiting trial.

When jurors finally get the case, likely in October or November, they will vote 17 times, once for each of the victims, on whether to recommend capital punishment.

For each death sentence, the jury must be unanimous or the sentence for that victim is life. Jurors are told that in order to vote for death, the aggravating circumstances of the prosecution for that victim must, in their opinion, “outweigh” the mitigating circumstances of the defence. A juror can also vote for life out of pity for Cruz. During jury selection, panelists declared under oath that they were able to vote for either sentence.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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