Parkland gunman Nikolas Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty to murdering 17 people and 17 counts of attempted murder during the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland more than three years ago.
Inside a Broward County courtroom on Wednesday, Cruz also apologized to the victim’s family members as he asked for mercy.
Feb. 14, 2018, is a day Robert Schentrup will never forget. The recent University of Florida psychology graduate said it’s a day his life changed.
“I was in my dorm room, it was my freshmen year of college at the University of Central Florida,” he said. “One of my friends called me up and said, ‘Hey man, I don’t know if you have seen it, something happened at your high school, they are saying there was an active shooting.’”
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After attempting to reach his sister Carmen for hours, he got the horrifying news his 16-year-old sister was dead.
“The police department came out and told the families who were waiting who’s in the hospital and who is dead, and that is when we found out what had truly happened,” Schentrup said.
He said the deadly shooting claimed Carmen’s life and robbed the brilliant teen of a bright future. Schentrup said Carmen was a National Merit finalist who was accepted to nearly every school she applied to.
The case will head to a penalty trial in which a jury will decide whether Cruz will be sentenced to death or face life without parole.
“For me and my family, what is happening with him in the criminal justice system has never been a part of our healing process,” he said.
He said since the shooting massacre, he has turned his grief into action.
“The incident really highlighted just the epidemic of gun violence in this country so I’ve been spending the last 3 and a half years of my life doing what I can to try and push back against that,” he said.
Jury selection in the penalty phase is scheduled for Jan. 4.