Florida Shooter Nikolas Cruz to Plead Guilty to Murder Charges

| FEB 17, 2018 | 12:55 AM

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Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein said on Friday that 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz will plead guilty after killing 17 people in a mass shooting in Florida on Wednesday.

“Everybody knows who committed the crime and that the only question is does he live or does he die,” Finkelstein said, indicating a plea deal that avoided the death penalty.

According to CNN, Finkelstein framed the plea as a way to “avoid the unnecessary, arduous, long, painful, traumatic re-enactment of something that is so horrific the families and the community should not have to relive.”

Authorities charged Cruz with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday when a court directed his detainment without bond.

News of Cruz's plea deal came just after President Donald Trump visited shooting victims at a South Florida hospital.

In a tweet on Thursday, Trump emphasized that Americans should report people like Cruz to the authorities.

But law enforcement indicated on Friday that it neglected to act on warnings about Cruz's behavior.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said his office received about 20 calls regarding Cruz before his shooting. The FBI similarly said it received a tip from someone close to Cruz but failed to relay that to its Miami office.

Israel said Wednesday that Cruz used at least one firearm — an AR-15 rifle — and multiple magazines in his attack.

He reportedly participated in shooting competitions and told others of his enthusiasm for firing guns.

Aaron Diener, a 20-year-old who drove Cruz to his competitions, recounted his experiences with Cruz.

“He would tell us, 'Oh, it was so fun to shoot this rifle' or 'It was so fun to shoot that,'” Diener said.

One of Cruz's former classmates similarly speculated that shooting guns gave him an “exhilarating feeling.”

Cruz's rampage prompted Democratic lawmakers to call for gun control legislation, something the Republican-dominated Congress is unlikely to pass.

Trump, however, indicted Friday he was willing to craft some kind of legislative solution:

“Am also working with Congress on many fronts,” Trump said.