​Florida Shooting Prosecutors Seeking Death Penalty For Nikolas Cruz

US prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz, the teenager accused of killing 17 people in a massacre at a high school in February.

The attack took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and was the deadliest school shooting in America since 2012.

19-year-old Cruz has admitted carrying out the attack, and has been formally charged with a total of 17 counts of premeditated murder.

A notice filed on Tuesday explained that prosecutors are now seeking the death penalty, as this would in turn prove that the crime was 'especially heinous, atrocious or cruel'.

The notice said: "The capital felony was a homicide and was committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner without any pretence of moral or legal justification."

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Capital punishment is a legal sentence in the state of Florida, with nearly 350 prisoners still waiting for their final day. The most notorious prisoner to be executed in the Sunshine state was serial killer Ted Bundy in 1989.

However, lawyers representing Cruz have said that he will not plead guilty if 'death' is on the cards.

"We still stand ready to immediately plead guilty to 34 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole," Howard Finkelstein, a county public defender, said.

Finkelstein added: "We are not saying he is not guilty but we can't plead guilty while death is still on the table."

Florida - and the rest of the world - is still coming to terms with the atrocity, which has been deemed the fourth worst in US history.

Police say Cruz stormed the school towards the end of the day with a gas mask, smoke grenades and a semi-automatic weapon with plenty of ammunition. There's been no news about his motivations behind the attack, but students at Marjory Stoneman have revealed he was a troubled kid.

Some of his former classmates have come forward to say that they'd always feared he was capable of an act like yesterday's shooting, calling him 'crazy' and alleging he had previously killed animals.

"He was crazy because he liked to kill small things, like little animals - frogs and other animals like that and he just had a crazy mind. He was racist and he was just crazy," one student told 10ABC News.

The school issued a statement saying the 19-year-old was expelled last year, but the reason behind that situation isn't clear. Other students have claimed he was kicked out of middle school for repeatedly setting off fire alarms.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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