Parkland Shooting Verdict: Victims' Families Stunned and Devastated as Nikolas Cruz Escapes Death Penalty

A US jury has recommended gunman Nikolas Cruz to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the Parkland school shooting.

The jury found there was aggravating evidence sufficient to warrant a possible death penalty for the gunman but believed the mitigating factors outweighed aggravating ones.

Family members of victims were deeply upset over the verdict that spared the dastardly shooter the death penalty.

Stunned and Devastated

"I could not be more disappointed in what happened today ... I'm stunned. I'm devastated ... There are 17 victims that did not receive justice today. This jury failed our families today," said Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was among the students killed, BBC reported..

Broward Circuit Judge, Elizabeth Scherer set the sentencing date for November 1, Xinhua news agency reported.

Nikolas Cruz appears in a police booking photo after being charged with 17 counts
Nikolas Cruz appears in a police booking photo after being charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder following a Parkland school shooting, at Broward County Jail in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. February 15, 2018. Reuters

Cruz, 24, was tried for months for the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

He pleaded guilty in 2021 to murdering 17 people, including 14 students, in one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.

17 Counts of Murder in First Degree

Cruz, former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, had been charged with 17 counts of murder in the first degree, and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree. Probe had revealed that another video obtained by cops had shown Cruz talking over the phone and telling someone that he will kill at least 20 people using an AR-15.

Nikolas Cruz
Nikolas Cruz, accused in Parkland School shooting is seen attacking a guard in Broward County Jail. Youtube Screengrab

His defence has not denied the charges of mass killing. But they are trying to save Cruz from capital punishment. They even wrote to prosecutors requesting them not to seek death penalty for Cruz.

The horrific shooting incident had killed 17 people including seven 14-year-old students, two 15-year-old students, one 16-year-old students, two 17-year-old and one 18-year-old student, 35-year-old teacher Scott Beigel, 37-year-old assistant football coach Aaron Feis, and 49-year-old athletic director Christopher Hixon.