Parkland school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz kept his head down as made his way into a Florida court Wednesday, avoiding eye contact with everyone in the room as he faced a judge during an arraignment hearing.
In the spectator’s gallery was his younger brother Zachary, who had tears running down his face.
On social media, Zachary recently posted a message saying, “Don’t believe everything you hear or read about me and my brother.”
Sitting next to Zachary was his guardian, Roxanne Deschamps, who also shed tears.
On the other side of the courtroom sat the grieving families of those killed or wounded in the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School exactly one month ago.
Broward County deputies kept a close watch on the 19-year-old, who cops say has admitted to last month’s mass shooting.
On Wednesday, a judge entered a plea of not guilty on Cruz’s behalf. Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer entered the plea after the suspect’s attorney told her Cruz was going to stand mute on the charges, meaning he was declining to enter a plea.
A Broward County grand jury indicted Cruz last week on 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree.
On Tuesday, the Broward County State Attorney’s Office announced that it would seek the death penalty for Cruz, who cops say fatally shot 14 students and three staff members at the school.
During his arraignment, Cruz’s attorneys reiterated he would plead guilty if prosecutors decided not to seek capital punishment.
On the same day of Cruz’s arraignment Wednesday, high school students across the country staged a walkout for 17 minutes to correspond with the number of Parkland victims. The walkout was intended as an act of civil disobedience to push for stricter gun laws in the country.