Gun violence in the US

Brother of Florida school shooting suspect held on US$500,000 bail after he was found at the scene of the massacre

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 March, 2018, 6:19am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 3:28am

A Florida judge ordered the brother of suspected high school gunman Nikolas Cruz to be held on US$500,000 bail for a trespassing charge after prosecutors on Tuesday said he had visited the campus of his brother’s alleged murder spree three times since the February 14 massacre.

Zachary Cruz, 18, told deputies he went to the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, to “reflect on the school shooting and to soak it in,” according to the arrest report.

But during Cruz’s court appearance on Tuesday, a Broward County prosecutor said school officials had told him to stay away from the campus, where his brother killed 17 people last month.

“Weeks after his brother murdered, injured and terrorised the school, he is there with no legitimate purpose,” Assistant State Attorney Sarahnell Murphy said of Zachary Cruz.

Murphy said Cruz currently lived with a guardian in a nearby county but gave a false address to police.

Both brothers lived with a Florida neighbour, Rocxanne Deschamps, after their mother’s death in November.

‘Florida high school gunman’ Nikolas Cruz maintains silence in court

At a news conference in New York City on Tuesday, Deschamps told of her attempts to warn police that Nikolas Cruz had a history of violence and had bought a gun. 

She said she called 911 three times to tell police he had punched holes in her wall and may have been planning to bury a gun in the backyard.

“I was very concerned that the gun which he had bought might be brought into my house or that he might get the gun and use is to harm himself and others,” Deschamps read from a prepared statement.

“Law enforcement said nothing could be done,” she said, wiping away tears.

She said she begged Nikolas to see a doctor because “he was very depressed” after his mother’s death, but he refused to take medication.

In the Florida courtroom, Murphy said Zachary Cruz had visited his brother in jail, “where he has been heard and observed discussing how popular his brother is now.”

A defence lawyer for Zachary Cruz said he was not dangerous. “He is being held because of who he is related to, not because of what he did,” lawyer Joseph Kimok said.

Judge Kim Theresa Mollica ordered Cruz to be fitted with an ankle monitor should he post bail and told him to stay at least a mile away from the high school in Parkland. She instructed him not to have any contact with his brother or anyone at the school.