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Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz could face death penalty

A grand jury charged him with 17 counts of first-degree murder

    Nikolas Cruz in a court appearance in February 2018
    Nikolas Cruz in a court appearance in February 2018 (Photo: Getty Images)

    Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz could face the death penalty after a court formally charged him with murder.

    In an indictment returned by a grand jury in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, the 19-year-old was charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder and a further 17 counts of attempted murder.

    Mr Cruz is the only suspect in connection to last month's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, near Miami.

    Five Jewish victims - a teacher and four students - were among those who died at the school.

    Comment: Florida gunman was clearly antisemitic – but not only antisemitic

    The legal team representing Mr Cruz said he was prepared to plead guilty if prosecutors gave assurances that the death penalty was off the table.

    It would mean the suspected gunman serving a life prison sentence instead.

    A decision on revoking the death penalty rests with the state attorney in Broward County, Michael Satz, who has not yet set a court date for when Mr Cruz can enter a plea.

    The February 14 shooting triggered a nationwide debate on gun control, with President Trump moving to ban the sale of rapid-fire bump stocks, which allow guns to fire shots in rapid succession.

    A similar device had been used in last year's Las Vegas massacre that killed 58 people.

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