Zachary Cruz poses a threat similar to that of his brother, accused mass killer Nikolas Cruz, and he should have an exceptionally high bond for his trespassing charge, a prosecutor argued Tuesday.
It turns out that when Cruz was found on the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it was the third time he had been at the school since the shooting that killed 17 people on Feb. 14, the prosecutor said.
Judge Kim Theresa Mollica set bond for Cruz at $500,000 and ordered certain restrictions — including that he stays away from the Parkland school.
In seeking a high bond for Zachary Cruz, Assistant State Attorney Sarahnell Murphy said that just weeks after “his brother murdered, injured and terrorized” the school, Zachary Cruz was on the campus “with no legitimate purpose.”
Murphy said that after his arrest, Zachary Cruz admitted to investigators that he had been on the Stoneman Douglas campus two other times since the shootings.
“He has all the same flags present as his brother,” Murphy said in suggesting that Zachary Cruz poses a threat to the community.
“His mother and father are deceased, his brother is incarcerated. When he was arrested he gave a Parkland address where he does not reside,” Murphy said. She added that the guardian Cruz lives with in Lake Worth was in New York when he was arrested and had “no idea” how or why he went to the school.
Since his arrest Monday, Murphy said, Zachary Cruz has had contact in jail with his brother, Nikolas.
“He has been heard and observed discussing how popular is brother is now. That his face is everywhere and his name is national,” she said.
Murphy said there has been a discussion about starting a pen pal or fan club and the fact that he is capable of attracting a lot of girls.
Murphy argued for a $750,000 bond for Zachary Cruz — saying the potential danger he poses to the community played out on Tuesday.
“When the parents became aware of his presence on campus many kept their children home from school today, they have again been terrorized,” Murphy said.
Zachary Cruz, 18, told deputies he visited the school Monday “to reflect on the school shooting and to soak it in,” according to the arrest report. He had been warned by school officials to keep away from the campus.
Some students say they think it’s frightening that Zachary Cruz allegedly trespassed on the school campus more than a month after massacre.
“That’s crazy,” said Josef Bagiv, 16, a junior. “Just weird.”
Conner Gandy, 17, a senior, said Zachary should have at least warned people before he visited the school. Zachary’s showing up “frightens everyone,” figuring how depressed he might be, he said.
“It’s weird and suspicious, but I don’t think he would do anything,” he said.
John Mansfield, 17, a junior, said perhaps Zachary was trying to make sense of the tragedy. “I think he’s trying to understand like everyone else,” he said.
Early Tuesday, a helicopter from the Broward Sheriff’s Office was circling above Stoneman Douglas as students were preparing for the school day.
Nowadays at the school, the gate at the bus loop on Pine Island Road is closed to pedestrians, and walkers have to enter through the main gate.
An unmarked Broward Sheriff’s Office car parked in front of the median on Pine Island has been a new addition to the school’s new normal since it reopened after the shooting.
Nikolas Cruz faces the death penalty for the murder of 17 and the attempted murder of 17 others.
Zachary Cruz has been living with a family friend, Rocxanne Deschamps, in Lantana since the death of his mother in November.
“I don’t want to be alive. I don’t want to deal with this stuff,” Zachary Cruz told Deschamps on the night of the shooting, according to a report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
Two days after the shooting Zachary Cruz told a deputy that he felt “somewhat responsible and guilty about the incident and that he could have possibly prevented (it),” that report said. He also told the deputy that he “doesn’t understand why his brother would have done this.”
(Staff writer Scott Travis contributed to this report.)
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