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US school killer faces the death penalty if convicted

#school #killer #faces #death #penalty #convicted

A young man who gunned down 17 people at his former high school in Parkland, Fla. will be tried Monday with a jury set to award either the death penalty or life in prison.

Nikolas Cruz brought an AR-15 assault rifle into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018, killing 17 students and staff.

Cruz – who was 19 at the time – has already pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder of those wounded during the massacre.

The trial is being held to determine his sentence. The death penalty requires a unanimous decision of the jury; Otherwise, Cruz will hand over life without parole.

The Florida shooting stunned a country used to gun violence and sparked a new effort, led by students at the school themselves, to get lawmakers to pass tougher gun control laws.

Parkland survivors founded “March for Our Lives” and organized a rally that drew hundreds of thousands of people to Washington, DC in 2018.

Thousands took part in demonstrations organized by the group last month after two more mass shootings took place: one at a Texas elementary school that killed 19 young children and two teachers, and another at a New York supermarket where 10 blacks died.

These shootings helped bolster support for the first major federal gun safety law in decades.

– More than 24,000 dead –

President Joe Biden signed the law into law in late June. It included improved background checks for younger buyers and federal money for states that introduced “red flag” laws that allow courts to temporarily remove guns from people deemed a threat.

Cruz legally purchased the gun he used in the 2018 attack, despite having a documented history of mental health issues.

Expelled from school for disciplinary reasons, Cruz was known to have a firearm fixation – and was reportedly identified as a potential threat to his classmates.

On the day of the attack, Cruz arrived at the school in an Uber, began shooting indiscriminately at students and staff, and fled nine minutes later, leaving a scene of carnage in his wake.

Shortly thereafter, he was arrested nearby.

Footage from his phone showed he filmed his plans to attack his former school and said his aim was to kill “at least 20 people”.

Cruz told a detective after his arrest that he heard demons telling him to “buy guns, kill animals, and destroy everything.”

More than 24,000 people have been killed by guns in the United States so far this year, including more than 13,000 who died by suicide, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.

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