Suspect school shooter's brother Zachary pleads no contest to trespassing charge
Zachary Cruz, younger brother of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz, received six months probation after pleading no contest to trespassing on school grounds after being arrested last week skateboarding after hours at the Parkland school.
Zachary Cruz walked out of Broward County Jail Thursday afternoon.
The plea agreement bars Cruz, who had been held on $500,000 bond, from going within a mile of Stoneman Douglas High, or contacting any victims or family of victims from the Feb. 14 massacre during which his brother killed 14 students and three adults and wounded 15 other people.
The school ban for Zachary Cruz, 18, extends to any school he’s not attending. He’s also barred from using alcohol or possessing firearms. A GPS monitor will adorn an ankle, but as long as he keeps his probation officer apprised of where he’s going, he’s free to travel anywhere that doesn’t violate the terms of his probation.
Zachary Cruz has been living with guardian Rocxanne Deschamps in Palm Beach County since his mother, Lynda Cruz, died in November. Following the Feb. 14 tragedy — “the only family member he had left, his brother, murdered 17 people in cold blood,” Cruz’s court-appointed lawyer, Joseph Kimok, read from a prepared statement Thursday in court — Zachary Cruz was caught skateboarding twice at Stoneman Douglas High before being arrested March 19.
“Having lost his mother, having lost his brother and having his life dissected, Zachary did his best to cope,” Kimok said. “He didn’t turn to drugs, alcohol or violence. He turned to his skateboard and the one activity that gave him solace. And he turned to Stoneman Douglas, where he’d felt welcome. Zachary’s visits to Stoneman Douglas weren’t to scare anyone. He went after hours. He didn’t expect to see anyone. He just wanted to try to make sense of this. Nothing else.”
In last week’s hearing during which Cruz’s bond got increased to $500,000, assistant Broward state attorney Sarahnell Murphy told the court Zachary had been overheard during jail visits to Nikolas talking about setting up a fan club for the confessed mass murderer.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more is learned.