Father Speaks Out

Update: Nikolas Cruz was convicted of life in prison without parole on October 14, 2022.

Caleb Barrios, Staff Writer

In October of 2021, Nikolas Cruz plead guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder. A year later, the trial continues. This is the penalty phase of the trial, which will decide if he will receive the death penalty or life in prison without parole. The trial was delayed because of the Coronavirus pandemic and the several arguments made by Cruz’s attorneys. The attorneys for Cruz have tried to get mental health experts to explain Nikolas’s mental state, explaining that Cruz’s life has been traumatic for the brain. At an early age in life, the attorneys claim he had developed disorders caused by his mother, which experts say could lead to behavioral issues. The prosecutors pushing for Nikolas to be sentenced to death without parole say that Nikolas’s mental state is, “not relevant to the case.” One of the victim’s fathers, Fred Guttenburg, gave testimony in the trial. Guttenberg is the author of the book,” Find the Helpers,” and is a prominent gun control activist. His brother, who was a firefighter at ground zero on 9/11, passed away in October of 2017, and his daughter was horrifically killed five months later at Stoneman Douglas High School. Guttenberg, along with other parents of the Stoneman Douglas tragedy. As the trial continues, he was able to give insight on the situation.

How do you feel about the trial as a whole? “I am limited in talking about the trial because it’s still ongoing. On a personal level, it is going to provide an opportunity for my family and I, for some closure, and to finally see a final judgment on the person who did this to my daughter.”

Has the delay had an effect on you? “Absolutely. My daughter was murdered four and a half years ago. Watching this back and forth, and watching what I believe are unnecessary arguments for the person who did this, has caused pain to my wife, my son, and I. I wish our system had the ability to work a little differently. It has beentraumatic at times.”

Do you have any thoughts you want to share with students concerned about gun violence? “Yeah, I do. Don’t be silent, Don’t be silent. Don’t go through your days, just thinking it happens in other places but it won’t happen to me. Use your voice. Push your legislators. Tell them you want them to fight for your safety or you will vote them out of office. Remind them that you are right around the corner for voting age. You young people are all amazing on social media. You are all amazing at utilizing content to get reactions, so do that. Take every chance you get to fight for your life.”

With gun violence being a present issue in the United States, it is no surprise that code red drills are common practices across the nation’s schools. After dozens of massacres through the usage of guns, several parents and American citizens have advocated for stricter gun laws. President Biden said in a recent interview, that if the Democratic Party wins the 2022 Midterms, Congress will pass an assault weapon ban. At Suncoast High School, students are required to wear IDs as of 2022. This decision came after the Uvalde Elementary School Shooting happened on May 24, 2022. The IDs are not just for show, as the purpose is to make sure that students are with the school, and have been verified as such, which helps keep the school safe.