Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty to all 34 charges in the 2018 Parkland massacre. He apologized for killing 17 people, saying he must live with it 'every day.'

·3 min read
A mourner sits by a cross adorned with pictures of victims, along with flowers and other mementoes, at a memorial two days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 16, 2018.
A mourner sits by a cross adorned with pictures of victims, along with flowers and other mementoes, at a memorial two days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 16, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
  • Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty on Wednesday to all counts in the 2018 massacre.

  • Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first-degree.

  • The gunman gave a tearful apology during the hearing, saying he has nightmares about his actions and must live with it "every day."

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty on Wednesday to all counts in the 2018 massacre at a Florida high school where he killed 17 students and staffers and injured another 17 people.

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first-degree for the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

A jury will ultimately decide whether Cruz gets the death penalty for the February 14, 2018 rampage.

During the hearing at Broward County Circuit Court - where emotional family members of victims in the school shooting were present - a tearful Cruz repeatedly apologized in a rambling statement.

"I am very sorry for what I did and I have to live with it every day," Cruz said, adding, "I love you and I know you don't believe me, but I have to live with this every day and it brings me nightmares and I can't live with myself sometimes."

"But I try to push through because I know that's what you guys would want me to do," Cruz said.

Some parents in attendance shook their heads as Cruz spoke.

"I just want you to know I am really sorry and I hope you give me a chance to try to help others," Cruz said.

Cruz went on to say that, "I hate drugs and I believe this country would do better if everyone would stop smoking marijuana and doing all these drugs and causing racism and violence out in the streets."

"I'm sorry and I can't even watch TV anymore," he said. "And I am trying my best to maintain my composure."

Cruz pleaded guilty to all 34 counts in the courtroom one by one before Judge Elizabeth Scherer shortly before he apologized to the victims and their families.

A separate penalty trial will decide whether Cruz will receive the minimum sentence of life in prison without parole or the maximum sentence of death. Jury selection for the penalty phase of the case is scheduled to begin January 4 of next year.

"You are facing a minimum best case seniario of life in prison," Scherer told Cruz.

While Cruz made his statement, he told the families of his victims that he believes "it's your decision to decide whether...I live or die."

During the hearing, Broward State Attorney Mike Satz detailed the shooting - one of the deadliest school shootings in US history - and described how Cruz used an AR-15-style rifle to shoot each victim in hallways and classrooms.

Cruz, who had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas a year before the shooting, was arrested about an hour after the massacre.

Scherer asked Cruz a series of procedural questions at the beginning of Wednesday's hearing, including about his mental health, whether he was under the influence of drugs and whether he understood what was going on.

Cruz admitted that he had "just a little aniexty" about the proceedings.

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