After pleading guilty Wednesday to the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School that took 17 lives, the gunman addressed the victims’ families in court.
Nikolas Cruz did not look at the families present in the courtroom when making the statement.
“I am very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it every day. And if I were to get a second chance, I would do everything in my power to try to help others. And I am doing this for you, and I do not care if you do not believe me and I love you and I know you don't believe me, but I have to live with this every day and it brings me nightmares. And I can't live with myself sometimes, but I try to push through because I know that's what you guys would want me to do. I hate drugs, and I believe this country would do better if everyone would stop smoking marijuana and doing all these drugs and causing racism and violence out in the streets. I'm sorry and I can't even watch TV anymore, and I'm trying my best to maintain my composure. And I just want you to know I'm really sorry, and I hope you give me a chance to try to help others. I believe it's your decision to decide where I go, whether I live or die, not the jury's. I believe, it's your decision. I'm sorry,” the shooter said.
Some family members present in the courtroom could be seen shaking their heads and wiping tears as the gunman read his statement.
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The confessed shooter entered the plea on 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder for the February 14, 2018 tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Wednesday’s guilty plea sets up a penalty phase where a jury will decide between the death penalty and life without parole.