Dottie Pacharis

Serious untreated mental illness is a factor in mass murders

Dottie Pacharis

On February 14, 2018, Nikolas Cruz brutally murdered 14 students and three staff members and injured 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Cruz planned the shoot for seven months before stalking a three-story classroom for seven minutes, firing 140 shots from a semi-automatic rifle in hallways and classrooms.

Cruz pleaded guilty. That plea paved the way for a three-month sentencing trial that ended on October 13, 2022, with the jury voting 9 to 3 for a death sentence. Jurors said those voting for life believed Cruz was mentally ill and should be spared. Under Florida law, a death sentence requires unanimity.

Cruz’s sentence is life without parole. Angry family members of the 17 victims spent two days berating Cruz as evil, a coward, a monster and a sub-human who deserved a painful death.

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