A Florida jury has spared the life of Parkland mass murderer Nikolas Cruz, sentencing the convicted killer to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four years ago.
After four days of heartbreaking and emotional testimony, the courtroom was left stunned by the jury’s decision not to impose the death penalty in a case many felt warrants it.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was killed in the Parkland, FL shooting, expressed his anger, and disappointment with the sentencing. “This jury failed our families today,” he said. “Seventeen families did not receive justice,” the New York Times reported.
He was not alone in his frustration. Tony Montalto, whose daughter, Gina, was killed in the Parkland massacre, called the jury’s decision not to impose the death penalty “pretty unreal,” saying, “The monster that killed them gets to live another day.” He added, “Society has to really look and re-examine who and what is a victim.”
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) October 13, 2022
Four years after Cruz – a former Stoneman Douglas student – fired over 100 shots in less than ten minutes killing close to 20 people, gun violence has increased. Just five months ago, 19 children and two adults were gunned down at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas reigniting gun control advocates’ fight to see gun control reform legislated and passed.
In February, USA Today reported:
There were at least 136 instances of gunfire on school grounds between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, according to a report Friday from the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. The figure is nearly four times the average for that period since Everytown began tracking gunfire on school grounds in 2013. The shootings killed 26 people and wounded 96, marking the most recorded instances of gunfire and people shot in the five-month period since 2013, according to the report.
The grieving parents weren’t alone in their disappointment. Democratic candidate for Florida governor, Charlie Crist, tweeted:
There are crimes for which the only just penalty is death. The Parkland families and community deserved that degree of justice.
I will continue to pray for healing for the families and every person impacted by this tragedy.
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) October 13, 2022
Nikolas Cruz will spend the rest of his natural life behind prison bars. Though it doesn’t come remotely close to healing the wounds of those left to pick up the remaining broken pieces of his choices and actions on February 14, 2018, hopefully, it gives the survivors and families some solace to know he will never again walk free.
But now it’s up to us to do everything in our power to prevent any more Parklands, Sandy Hooks and Uvaldes by choosing the ballot over the bullet in November.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick