Nikolas Cruz, Parkland Shooter Pleads Guilty: How Did His Life Lead to Mass Killing?

nikolas cruz

On Wednesday, Parkland Shooter, Nikolas Cruz plead guilty to the murder of 14 students and 3 staff members, for a total of 17 victims, during the 2018 Valentine’s Day rampage, which has been deemed one of the deadliest school shootings in the nation, still today.

At the time, Nikolas Cruz was a 19 years old and former student of one of the largest schools in Florida, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He had been expelled the previous year due to violent behavior he had exhibited from his preschool years up until the expulsion. According to a student at the school, Victoria Olvera, that last straw that caused Nikolas Cruz’s expulsion was a fight the Parkland Shooter had gotten into with the new boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend, due to alleged abuse toward the ex-girlfriend.

Before the expulsion, school officials were aware of some strange behavior, such as when he claimed to have been quoting a violent video game and wrote “die, die, die” in a story he wrote in English class. According to Nikolas Cruz, the line came from Call of Duty. And his use of violent video games was reportedly supported by his mental health counselors, along with target practice and punching bags.

Victoria Olvera said, “Everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him,” referring to a mass shooting at their school.

Another former friend of Nikolas Cruz, Dakota Mutchler, had cut off their friendship previous to the shooting due to him “progressively getting a little more weird.”

The Fateful Day

On Valentine’s Day in 2018, Nikolas Cruz entered the high school in Parkland, Florida with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle near the end of the school day. He also had on him a gun mask, smoke grenades, and magazines of ammunition. He drew the high school students and staff out of their classes by setting off a fire alarm. The Parkland Shooting lasted only seven minutes as the Parkland Shooter made his way through the three-story building, but in that short amount of time, he wounded 12 people in addition to the 17 victims whose lives were taken. Those who witnessed the horrific event reported that Nikolas Cruz even returned to victims who had already been shot to kill them with additional shots, ensuring their deaths. Scott Israel, the Broward County Sheriff called the rampage “Catastrophic.” Victims were found throughout the building, as well as outside. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School football coach was among the victims who lost their lives that fateful day.

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Another of the staff who fell victim was teacher, Scott Beigel, who had told his fiancé when they were watching an earlier shooting, “Promise me if this ever happens to me, you will tell them what a jerk I am, don’t talk about the hero stuff.”

What happened changed many lives, and it motivated many to fight for change. Many of the students of that high school came together and began to speak out for gun control.

Watch a survivor discuss what happened on the day the Parkland Shooter killed 17 victims.

A View From the Courtroom of the Parkland Shooter

On Wednesday, when now 23-year-old Nikolas Cruz plead guilty, there were mixed emotions among the relatives of the victims, many of whom attended the hearing and others who watched via Zoom. Many cried and embraced, some expressed hope that he receive a life sentence, while others hope his trial, scheduled for January 4, 2022, will lead to the death penalty.

The Parkland Shooter apologized during his statement saying, “I know you don’t believe me, but I have to live with this every day. And it brings me nightmares.” “I’m very sorry for what I did…I can’t live with myself sometimes.”

Watch his statement on YouTube here:

But many of the relatives are skeptical that this is a tactic to reduce his sentence when the trial comes.

Tony Montalto, father of Gina Montalto, one of the victims said, “Today we saw a cold and calculating killer confess…His guilty pleas are the first step in the judicial process, but there is no change for my family.” He went on to explain how his “bright, beautiful, and beloved daughter” is no longer with them while Nikolas Cruz get to continue to have life in prison.

(That said, some false claims have been made online about his life in prison, such as a special allowance made to him to vote. Despite talk online, Nikolas Cruz is not a registered democrat, nor his he a republican. According to, he is not registered to vote.)

Another parent of a victim talked about how her “sweet” son “had a life ahead of him and the person you saw in there chose to take his life. He does not deserve a life in prison.”

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Jessica Goldsmith
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Jessica Goldsmith is a writer and editor of Christian resource, news, and information.