Suspected Gunman Nikolas Cruz Makes First Court Appearance

Nikolas Cruz, the suspected gunman in the Parkland, Florida school shooting, made his first court appearance on Thursday afternoon, where the judge ordered he will be held without bond.

Judge Kim Theresa Mollica reiterated the charges against the 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which includes 17 counts of premeditated murder.

"The defense has no arguments and will defer to further court proceedings," Cruz's attorney said in the Fort Lauderdale court, as the suspected gunman stood nearby in an orange jumpsuit and keeping his gaze toward the floor.

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(Photo: Florida Department of Justice)

Following no opposition from the defense, Mollica ruled that no bond will be issued ahead of his next court appearance.

"I find probable cause," Mollica said after reviewing the case. "I further find the proof of guilt to be evident or the presumption great."

Before the hearing, an official with the public defender's office described Cruz as a "deeply troubled child who has endured a lot of emotional trauma in a short period of time," the Sun Sentinel reports. Among those potential tragedies may have been the death of Cruz's mother, who reportedly passed away from pneumonia in November.

Cruz, who had been expelled last year for fighting and who had a history of menacing social media posts, returned to his former high school armed with an AR-15 rifle and additional ammunition, opening fire on students who poured into the hallways after he triggered fire alarms near the end of the school day.

There were reportedly dozens of officers and agents on the scene following Cruz's suspected gunfire, including the local department, the FBI and various associated task forces. They tracked down Cruz at a home close to the school within two hours after the shooting began. It's unclear how he escaped the campus, but some are speculating that he blended in with students in the midst of the chaos.

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The suspect was later escorted into a police station wearing a hospital gown. Sheriffs officials said that Cruz was initially taken to a hospital for labored breathing before being questioned at sheriff's headquarters. He is now being held at the Broward County Jail.

Cruz's arrest is a rare case, as the suspects in these tragedies are not usually captured alive.