On day two of the sentencing section within the trial of Nikolas Cruz, who dedicated one of many worst mass shootings in US historical past at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive Faculty, instructor and scholar survivors instructed the jury of their experiences that day.
Whereas the primary day of the trial included horrifying cellphone footage recorded by college students as Cruz opened fireplace on school rooms on 14 February 2018, day two of proceedings included roughly quarter-hour of silent safety digital camera video proven solely in court docket.
A number of jurors have been seen to gasp and canopy their mouths in shock, as cameras tracked the shooter on his rampage across the 1200 constructing of the highschool campus in Parkland, Florida.
In his opening assertion on Monday, prosecutor Michael Satz had given a minute-by-minute account of what transpired in the course of the bloodbath noting when and the place particular person victims have been slain by Cruz, and the jury now noticed all of it unfold earlier than them.
After the video was proven, a bunch of survivors — most injured in the course of the assault — appeared in court docket to piece collectively a harrowing account of the occasions of that Valentine’s Day 4 years in the past.
Pupil Christopher McKenna testified about his encounter with Cruz within the constructing’s stairwell on his technique to the restroom shortly earlier than the taking pictures started. He was chillingly instructed by the then 19-year-old holding an AR-15 to get out as a result of “issues have been about to get dangerous”.
Mr McKenna mentioned he ran out of the constructing and alerted Coach Aaron Feis simply earlier than gunshots started. Mr Feis took the freshman away from the scene after which went to research. He grew to become certainly one of Cruz’s victims.
Requested to determine who he noticed within the stairwell that day, Mr McKenna stood and pointed instantly at Cruz.
The court docket heard from survivors William Olson, Alex Dworet, and Kheshava Manhapuram, all 14 on the time, who had been in the identical English class that Mr McKenna had left.
Mr Olson recalled listening to the primary gunshots and never being initially positive what was occurring. He discovered himself on the ground by the instructor’s desk and noticed his good friend Alex Schacter was nonetheless at his desk and never transferring. Mr Olson was wounded within the arm, and his mother and father, seated within the gallery, have been visibly upset by his account of the assault.
Sitting close to Mr Olson, Mr Dworet was equally injured, sustaining a wound to the again of his head within the preliminary moments. He too recalled seeing Mr Schacter fatally injured, nonetheless at his desk.
Mr Mangapuram was hit within the facet of his abdomen when photographs got here by means of the door of the classroom and remembers Mr Olson and Mr Schacter being struck too.
Essentially the most emotional testimony of the day got here from Dara Hass who was instructing the category through which the three boys have been injured and through which Mr Schacter died. Ms Hass remembered screaming and the air changing into hazy with smoke as particles flew throughout the room. Recalling every of the scholars by title, she spoke of attending to the injured outdoors after the police arrived.
In a close-by room, a category was being taught the historical past of the Holocaust. Juniors Isabelle Chequer, Daniella Menescal, Samantha Grady, and Samantha Fuentes have been stoic in recounting the confusion as they and their classmates scrambled for shelter out of the road of sight of the window within the door to the locked classroom.
They recalled college students transferring submitting cupboards to higher defend themselves from the gunfire and crawling throughout the ground for higher cowl. Every was injured by shrapnel, ricochets, or bullet grazes.
Ms Fuentes had a gunshot wound above her knee and nonetheless has shrapnel in her physique to today, together with behind her eye. She continues to have issues together with her vary of movement and stamina.
All recall seeing that college students Nick Dworet and Helena Ramsay, each 17, had been fatally shot. Mr Dworet’s brother Alex, who testified earlier, lay injured within the close by English class. Ms Grady recalled Ms Ramsay spurring her into motion when the taking pictures started and being beside her.
On the ground above, scholar Ana Martins and instructor Michael Powell have been in a research corridor session when Cruz launched his assault. Ms Martins, 14, described how she and a good friend spoke with Gina Montalto who was engaged on a laptop computer within the corridor outdoors the locked classroom as they returned from the toilet.
As soon as again at their desks, she had stood to let Luke Hoyer and Martin Duque, additionally each 14, again into the locked room when the primary photographs rang out. Earlier than she reached the door she was pulled away by a good friend and so they took cowl beneath the instructor’s desk. Gina, Luke, and Martin have been all killed.
Mr Powell believed the preliminary loud booms have been a part of a promised drill and ordered the youngsters in his class to shelter away from the door. Because the noise continued and it grew to become clear it was not a drill, and checking to verify the door was locked, he let in a boy from the corridor and 4 women who had been hiding within the restroom reverse.
Each bit of testimony was met with silence from the court docket and tears shed by households within the gallery.
Simply as on day one of many trial, seated along with his attorneys, Cruz stored his head down, showing to write down or doodle on the pad in entrance of him.
Having already pleaded responsible to 17 counts of homicide, the 12-person Florida jury will as a substitute be tasked with deciding on his punishment: both a dying sentence, or a life sentence with out parole.
The jury of seven males and 5 ladies, chosen from a pool of 1,800 candidates, will have to be in unanimous settlement to levy an execution sentence.
The listening to continues on Wednesday.
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