Nikolas Cruz Reportedly Intends to Plead Guilty to School Shooting

After confessing to killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz plans to plead guilty, his public defender said Friday.

“It’s 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," Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein told CNN. "Everybody knows who committed the crime and that the only question is does he live or does he die."

Finkelstein said it was "in no one’s interest to do the same old legal dance we have seen play out across the country way too many times."

"This is an opportunity to put the criminal case behind and help the victims’ families begin to try and pick up pieces of their lives for our community to heal and to figure out how we stop these things from ever happening again," the attorney added.

Cruz made his first court appearance on Thursday, less than a day after the shooting. Judge Kim Theresa Mollica ordered Cruz be held without bond. He has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

According to police, Cruz confessed to the shooting during an interview with investigators. He also said he hid extra ammunition in the backpack he took with him. He used an AR-15-style rifle, which he bought legally in February 2017.

Cruz is a former student of the high school. He was reportedly expelled last year after getting into a fight with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. A teacher told reporters he was also banned from bringing a backpack to school.

Cruz managed to escape after the shooting, and reportedly tried to hide among the students leaving the building. Officers found Cruz at a home near the school, within two hours of the start of the shooting.

Less than three months before the shooting, Cruz's adoptive mother Lynda died after a battle with pneumonia. Relatives think that might have been the breaking point for the 19-year-old.

“Lynda dealt with it like most parents did. She was probably too good to him,” Barbara Kumbatovic, an aunt, told the Washington Post. “She made a beautiful home for them. She put a lot of effort and time into their schooling, their recreation, whatever they needed. . . . She went over and above, because she needed to compensate for being a single parent.”