The younger brother of Parkland, Florida, school shooter Nikolas Cruz has been sentenced to six months of probation for trespassing on the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School earlier this month. Zachary Cruz will be released from the Broward County jail.
Zachary Cruz was initially jailed on a $500,000 bond, leading his attorney to argue that he was being punished because he was related to his brother Nikolas Cruz, who last month killed 17 people in one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern US history.
Under the terms of his probation, Cruz will wear a GPS monitor and must remain one mile away from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas campus. He is also forbidden from having any contact with victims or family members of the February 14 shooting.
An attorney for Zachary Cruz, 18, will argue for his release at a Thursday hearing. The defense said the teen is being treated unfairly.
“He is being held because of who he is related to, not because of anything that he did,” attorney Joseph Kimok told Judge Kim Theresa Mollica.
It’s unclear whether Zachary Cruz will appear in court for the hearing.
Zachary Cruz, 18, was arrested March 19 on a misdemeanor trespassing charge at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where his brother killed 17 people last month in one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern US history. After his arrest, the younger Cruz told police he wanted to “reflect on the school shooting and soak it in,” according to an arrest report.
Police said he has visited the campus at least three times since the February 14 mass shooting.
His attorney filed a motion for his client’s release, calling his treatment immoral, reprehensible, unlawful and unconstitutional. There is no evidence that the defendant threatened anyone when arrested, Kimok wrote.
Is he being punished for his brother’s crime?
The judge’s actions have raised questions about whether Zachary Cruz is being treated harshly because of his brother’s crime.
Cruz is facing a second-degree misdemeanor with a bond that is typically $25. Instead, the judge in Cruz’s case set bail at $500,000, ordered a psychological evaluation, electronic monitoring and no communication with his older brother.
In his first court appearance through closed-circuit TV on March 20, Zachary Cruz was shackled and surrounded by three armed deputies, not common for someone appearing on a trespassing charge.
His attorney has described him as a victim of “hysteria” due to the massacre.
Prosecutors mentioned three earlier crimes to which Cruz pleaded guilty, but records from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and Coral Springs police show his encounters with law enforcement were much more extensive.
He is named or referenced in at least 36 incident, investigation and call reports between 2011 and 2017.
Shooter’s brother banned from buying guns
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office sought an order to restrict Zachary Cruz from having access to guns by using a new Florida law passed in the aftermath of last month’s school massacre.
He’s been temporarily banned from possessing or purchasing firearms or ammunition due to the psychological evaluation he was required to take.
The new law, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, lets law enforcement officers temporarily seize firearms from someone they’re taking into custody for an involuntary mental health assessment.
In granting a temporary risk protection order, Judge Jack Tuter noted that the sheriff’s office did not allege that Cruz owns guns. However, based on the allegations, the court determined there was reasonable cause to believe Cruz would pose “a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself” if he were to obtain a gun or ammunition, according to the order.