On Feb. 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The shooting spree lasted seven minutes.
At about 2:30 in the afternoon, it became apparent to the students and staff that something terrible was about to happen. Right before classes were supposed to be dismissed, police were called to respond to an active shooter.
Cruz first opened fire outside the school building with a semi-automatic weapon. He then moved inside where 12 victims were gunned down. Seventeen people, in total, died that day. Fourteen were students and three were staff members.
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For over an hour, the school was at the mercy of a gunman on the loose. Eventually, Cruz fled the campus, concealing himself among the crowd. Police finally arrested him in Coral Springs.
Following the shooting, police and prosecutors found a pattern of disciplinary issues and unnerving behavior.
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In October, during an emotional day in court, the judge read each victim’s name and asked Cruz how he wished to plead. Cruz responded, “guilty.”
With the guilty pleas, Cruz hoped to avoid the death sentence that prosecutors were seeking, although it was not taken off the table. The penalty trial had been set for this month, but is now delayed until at least April to give prosecutors additional time to prepare.
Jurors will ultimately recommend whether Cruz should be sentenced to death or life in prison in connection with the deadliest high school shooting in United States history.
In the wake of the shooting, students founded NEVER AGAIN MSD -- an advocacy group that lobbies for gun control.
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Less than a month after the shooting, former Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill that implemented new restrictions to Florida’s gun laws. These changes allowed the hiring of school resource officers as well as the ability for teachers who were properly trained to carry guns.
Florida government buildings, parks and other facilities will fly their flags at half-staff on Monday in honor of the victims.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said in his proclamation that the observance of the shooting’s fourth anniversary “will continue to honor the memory of the innocent Floridians lost on that tragic day” at the Parkland school.