The Florida school gunner, Nikolas Cruz, has been formally accused of a seventeen-fold murder before a jury in Fort Lauderdale. He can get the death penalty for that. He has also been charged with seventeen attempts at murder.

The 19-year-old Cruz shot seventeen people dead at a secondary school in Broward County, Florida, on 14 February with a semi-automatic weapon. More than ten others were injured.

His lawyer says he is emotionally broken and that he confesses guilt when the death penalty goes away. That would mean that he is likely to get a life sentence if the public prosecutor agrees. He has not yet announced a decision.

Incomprehension

The couple that Cruz took home in November last year after the death of his mother, testified before the jury today. They say they still do not understand why Cruz came to his deed.

Cruz did not tell the police any more than he went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 gun on Valentine’s Day and started shooting in the classrooms there.

In ten minutes he shot down pupils and teachers in classrooms on the first and second floor, after which he walked out unnoticed between pupils. There he was arrested after he was recognized from video images. Cruz soon knew that he was the shooter.

Odd behavior

In reports released from prison, Cruz is kept isolated. He is described as someone who cooperates, but avoids eye contact.

He often sits with an empty gaze in front of him or staring out at the ceiling, lying on his bed. Sometimes he seems to laugh and he shows other strange behavior, according to the reports. He also asked for a Bible so that he can read in his cell.

Racist

Cruz had one visit from an unidentified family member. According to the authorities, his internet history shows that he was fond of weapons and combat clothing and that he regularly scolded blacks and Muslims.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, an organization opposed to anti-Semitism, he had links with ultra-right racists and said he would mow police officers and left-wing demonstrators with his AR-15.