The Florida police officer who apprehended gunman Nikolas Cruz following the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School says that his "heart is very heavy."
Coconut Creek Officer Michael Leonard was honored at a Broward County Commission Meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27, where he briefly opened up to ABC News about the events that took place following the Valentine's Day shooting at the Parkland, Florida high school.
"It's hard to accept the title as a hero," says officer who apprehended suspected Florida school shooter. "Most officers have the heart to help and service. I think they're all heroes." https://t.co/9xJZsYBJc3 pic.twitter.com/4lHtmcabkC— ABC News (@ABC) February 28, 2018
"I'm very heavy, my heart is very heavy. I have a child similar age, and when you come against evil like that and you have children at home that are about that age, it's very close to my heart. It was difficult, but I'm so honored that I was able to be a part, and do my part, and take this killer into custody."
Leonard had been driving through a residential neighborhood after hearing calls over the radio detailing the school shooting when he discovered an individual matching the description of the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, who had managed to escape the scene by concealing "himself in the crowd and was among those running out of the school." Leonard placed Cruz in handcuffs and took him into custody.
Despite the role that he had in taking Cruz into custody, he says that he isn't yet ready to accept the title of hero.
"It's so hard to say that when all my brothers and sisters are all heroes. Law enforcement, fire services, first responders – they're all heroes. I was just doing my job that day, and right now it's a very heavy time…And it's a process, it's hard to accept the title as a hero. It's hard to accept that status, or that title, when this is something that that all officers I believe, or most officers, have the heart to help and serve. I think they're all heroes, and I'd like to honor all of them."
In the wake of the shooting, student survivors have rallied together to urge lawmakers to enforce stricter gun control laws, with senior Emma Gonzalez becoming an outspoken voice in the fight after giving an impassioned speech at an anti-gun rally. Students, who returned to the high school today for classes, have since organized multiple nationwide school walkouts and have traveled to the Florida state Capitol to speak with lawmakers about school safety.