Court Hearing About Parkland School Shooter's Finances Canceled

NBC 6's Willard Shepard reports from Fort Lauderdale where the inheritance of accused gunman of the Parkland school shooting is under dispute.

(Published Thursday, March 1, 2018)

What to Know

  • A member of the family that took in Nikolas Cruz after his adopted mother Lynda died last November are asking to be added as beneficiaries.

  • The question of Nikolas Cruz’s financial state came up with officials wondering if he had the financial means to hire his own attorneys.

  • The hearing was scheduled a day after thousands of students returned to classes on the Parkland campus two weeks after the horrific incident

A hearing scheduled for Thursday morning that may have shed further light on the financial status of the accused Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter has been canceled.

The hearing scheduled for Thursday morning in Broward County probate court was canceled at an attorney's request. Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz could face the death penalty if convicted of 17 counts of murder in the Feb. 14 shooting.

Stoneman Douglas shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz will continue to be represented by a public defender but that could change after an inheritance issue is resolved.

(Published Thursday, March 1, 2018)

A member of the family that took in Cruz after his adopted mother Lynda died last November is asking to be added as beneficiaries to her estate.

Roxanne Deschamps is also asking that Cruz’s younger brother, Zachary, be added as well.

Cruz, the 19 year old charged with killing 17 people and injuring over a dozen more, was not expected to be in the courtroom as he had previously waived his right to appear at future hearings.

The question of Nikolas Cruz’s financial state came up shortly after his first court appearance, with officials wondering if he had the financial means to hire his own attorneys instead of using a public defender.

Students describe their emotions as they return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for the first time since the mass shooting.

(Published Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018)

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that the case involving Cruz could go before a grand jury as early as Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. By state law, prosecutors must file formal charges and present their case before the panel of jurors vote on a possible indictment.

Thousands of students returned to classes on the Parkland campus Wednesday, exactly two weeks after the horrific incident that changed many of their lives forever. The half-day began with fourth period so the survivors could first see, hug and cry with the same people they were with during the shooting.

The hundreds of police officers on hand for the school's reopening brought comfort dogs, a donkey, and horses, one of which had "eagle pride" painted on its side. A nearby woman held a sign offering "free kisses." After school dismissed, members of the Guardian Angels wearing their trademark red berets lined the streets at a crosswalk.

"In the beginning, everyone was super serious, but then everyone cheered up and it started being the same vibes we had before the shooting," said Kyle Kashuv, a junior who said he hugged every single teacher. Kashuv said he was amazed by the outpouring of support from the community, including the police presence, the animals and many well-wishers. There were letters from all over the world and "banners on every single wall," he said.

NBC 6's Darryl Forges spoke with several people who graduated from the school that wanted to make sure they were on hand for the students and teachers returning to class Wednesday.

(Published Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018)

At Stoneman Douglas on Wednesday, some of the police officers guarding the nearly 3,300-student school carried military-style rifles, and Superintendent Robert Runcie said the police presence would continue for the remainder of the school year. The heavy arms rattled some students.

"This is a picture of education in fear in this country." The National Rifle Association "wants more people just like this, with that exact firearm, to scare more people and sell more guns," said David Hogg, a 17-year-old senior and shooting survivor at Stoneman Douglas who has become a leading voice in the student movement to restrict assault weapons.

Florida lawmakers also continued their investigation of how the suspected shooter managed to slip through local law enforcement despite previous warning signs.

The Florida House voted Wednesday to subpoena records from Broward County and the school board, as well as sheriff's offices in Broward and Palm Beach counties and the city of Coral Springs. Among items requested from the school were documents on a mentoring program aimed at alternatives to the juvenile justice system. Critics have suggested the program led to lenience for Cruz, but the superintendent said Wednesday that the suspect was never part of the program.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he hopes a gun and school-safety bill is passed before the annual legislative session ends March 9. The measures he proposed did not include arming teachers, but he declined to say whether he would veto a sweeping package that includes that provision.

The Broward superintendent has spoken out against the idea of arming teachers.

At Stoneman Douglas, about 150 grief counselors were on campus "to provide a lot of love, a lot of understanding" and to help students "ease back" into their school routines, Runcie said.

The freshman building where the Feb. 14 massacre took place remained cordoned off.

Students were told leave their backpacks at home. Principal Ty Thomas tweeted that the school's focus would be on "emotional readiness and comfort, not curriculum."

In each classroom, colored pencils, coloring books, stress balls and toys were available to help students cope.

"It's not how you go down. It's how you get back up," said Casey Sherman, a 17-year-old junior. She said she was not afraid to return, "just nervous."

Many students said the debate over new gun laws helped them process the traumatic event and prepared them to return.

Alexis Grogan, a 15-year-old sophomore, was concerned that it might be too soon to go on as usual without slain friends such as Luke Hoyer, who sat two seats behind her in Spanish class.

"Seeing everyone was good, but emotionally I was in shambles. I probably broke down into tears 10-plus times and had to walk out of my classes multiple times throughout the day," she said.