Parkland high school shooter pleads guilty to killing 17

Miami (AFP) – A former student pleaded guilty on Wednesday to the February 2018 shooting rampage at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead and sparked a student-led movement for tighter gun control laws.


Nikolas Cruz, who was 19 at the time, took a legally purchased AR-15 assault rifle into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, his former school, and killed 17 students and staff members.

Cruz pleaded guilty in a packed Broward County courtroom to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder for those who were wounded during the Valentine's Day attack.

Cruz, who was dressed in a blue-collared shirt and sweater vest and wearing large glasses and a face mask, responded "guilty" as Judge Elizabeth Scherer read off each of the charges.

Cruz will now go before a jury for the penalty phase of the trial. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.

The attack was the worst school massacre in the United States since the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, which left 26 dead.

The Florida shooting stunned the country and sparked new efforts, led by students from the school itself, for tougher gun control -- although the polarized US Congress has yet to enact meaningful gun reform.