Published: Tue, March 20, 2018
Medicine | By Rogelio Lindsey

Authorities: Brother of shooting suspect arrested at school

Authorities: Brother of shooting suspect arrested at school

Zachary Cruz, 18, the brother of the shooter who killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was arrested Monday for trespassing at the Parkland school, officials said.

Under Florida's Baker Act, Peterson, as a Broward Sheriff's deputy, had the authority to initiate Cruz's commitment to an involuntary mental health evaluation for at least three days. Such a commitment would have made it more hard, if not impossible, for Cruz to have legally obtained a gun such as the AR-15 assault-style rifle used in the shooting.

Concerns about the mental health of the student accused of killing 17 people at his former high school were raised long before the shooting, it has emerged. Zachary Cruz was being held on a $25 bond, while his brother, Nikolas Cruz is charged with 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder, and has no bond, county records showed.

This is a developing story.

Cruz was arrested after 14 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine's Day.

There were also reportedly calls made to the Federal Bureau of Investigation which raised concerns about Cruz, in particular, that he had the potential to carry out an attack at his school.

Cruz could have forcibly been committed for mental evaluation under Florida's Baker Act.

Despite the warnings and recommendations regarding Cruz's state of mental health, there's no evidence that he was ever committed. The law allows a law enforcement officer such as Peterson to initiate commitment under the Baker Act. Cruz admitted he did so over his failed relationship, according to documents.

The report said Zachary Cruz had no connections to Broward County at this time.

Five days earlier, on September 23, Ms. Cruz had summoned a different Henderson clinician to her home because Mr. Cruz was verbally aggressive and "punching holes in the wall". (Cruz) states that he cut because he was lonely, states that he had broken up with his girlfriend and reports that his grades had fallen.

He faces the death penalty if convicted, but defence lawyer Melisa McNeill said he would plead guilty in return for a life prison sentence.

He also told the clinician he owned only a pellet gun and was not capable of doing "serious harm" to anyone.

Zachary Cruz has been living with a family friend, Rocxanne Deschamps, in Lantana since the death of his mother in November.

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