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Who were Nikolas Cruz's victims?

NIKOLAS Cruz has pleaded guilty to murder over the 2018 shooting massacre in Parkland.

The mass murderer left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. 

Who were Nikolas Cruz's victims?

Here are Nikolas Cruz's victims:

Alyssa Alhadeff, 14

Alyssa excelled in math and Spanish, was a gifted writer and captain of her soccer team.

She wasn't afraid to speak her mind, according to her family.

Her mother, Lori, was elected to the Broward County school board nine months after the shooting on a platform to improve campus security.

Scott Beigel, 35

Beigel, a beloved geography teacher and cross-country coach, died trying to escort students into his classroom and away from the shooter.

Martin Duque, 14

Martin, an immigrant from Mexico, was remembered by his family as an avid football fan, a good student and a devout churchgoer.

He was a member of the school's Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.

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Nick Dworet, 17

Nick was an accomplished swimmer who had accepted an athletic scholarship to the University of Indianapolis, where he planned to study finance.

His younger brother Alex was wounded in the shooting.

Their parents have started a charity, Swim4Nick, which offers college scholarships for swimmers and swim clinics, and soon will offer water survival classes for toddlers.

Aaron Feis, 37

Feis was an assistant football coach and security guard at Stoneman Douglas, his alma mater.

He died rushing into the building to save students. He was survived by a wife and daughter.

Jaime Guttenberg, 14

Jaime was a performing dancer who hoped to become an occupational therapist and mother.

She always stood up for the bullied. Her father, Fred Guttenberg, has become an outspoken national advocate of tighter gun regulations.

Christopher Hixon, 49

Hixon, the school's athletic director and a Navy veteran, died rushing to confront and stop the shooter.

His wife, Debbi, was elected to the Broward County school board in 2020.

A video of President Joe Biden comforting the Hixons' special needs son, Corey, a month after the shooting went viral during his campaign.

Luke Hoyer, 15

Luke's family said he was a loving, sweet person who adored basketball and smiled all the time.

Reserved but with a wry sense of humor, he was known by his friends as the king of the one-word answer.

Cara Loughran, 14

Cara enjoyed Irish dancing and gymnastics.

Her family said she was an excellent student who loved the beach.

Gina Montalto, 14

Gina was a member of the Stoneman Douglas winter color guard team and was described by one of her instructors as the sweetest soul ever.

Her father, Tony Montalto, is president of Stand With Parkland, the group that represents the victims' families.

Joaquin Oliver, 17

Joaquin, a gifted writer who loved soccer, was known as Guac, short for guacamole, because some struggled to say his name.

He had brought flowers to school as a Valentine's Day gift for his girlfriend.

His father, artist Manuel Oliver, has become known for pieces decrying gun violence and started the organization Change the Ref to lobby for stronger gun regulations.

Alaina Petty, 14

Alaina was a member of the school's Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and spent countless hours volunteering through her church.

A few months before the shooting, she had helped Florida families recovering from Hurricane Irma.

Her father, Ryan, served on a state commission that investigated the shooting's causes and has become active in conservative political causes.

Meadow Pollack, 18

Meadow, an aspiring lawyer, was an outgoing personality who died trying to shield a younger student with her body.

She was three months from graduating and planned to attend Lynn University in Boca Raton.

Her father, Andrew Pollack, has become a conservative activist.

He spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention, blaming the shooting on Broward County's far-left school board.

Helena Ramsay, 17

Helena was described by friends as a relentless student with a reserved personality.

A native of England, she had moved to the United States when she was two.

She died trying to protect a friend from the gunman as he fired into their classroom.

Alex Schachter, 14

Alex, a quiet youngster, was an enthusiastic member of the school's band, playing trombone.

His mother died when he was a young child.

His father, Max, served on the state commission that investigated the shooting's causes and has become a national advocate for stronger school security measures.

Carmen Schentrup, 16

Carmen was a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist, one of 53 in Broward County.

She planned to attend Washington State University with the goal of becoming a medical researcher and finding a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the neurological disorder commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Peter Wang, 15

Peter, wearing his Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps uniform, died trying to usher other students to safety.

He dreamed of attending the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.

The school granted him posthumous admission.

Why did Nikolas Cruz shoot dead 17 people?

Cruz was a 19-year-old expelled student with a history of mental health and behavioral issues at the time of the "cold, calculated and premeditated" killings, Broward County's State's Attorney Office said in court documents.

Cruz told investigators that he heard voices in his head telling him to "burn, kill, destroy" and that he tried but failed to kill himself two months before the massacre, according to a transcript of his first formal interview with detectives.

After the pleas were entered, Cruz removed his Covid-19 mask and apologized to his victims.

He said: "I am very sorry for what I did and I have to live with it every day.

 "And that if I were to get a second chance I will do everything in my power to try to help others.

“I  have to live with this every day, and it brings me nightmares that I can't live with myself sometimes."

The moaning gunman added: "But I try to push through because I know that’s what you guys would want me to do."

Has Nikolas Cruz's been given the death penalty?

A penalty trial will now determine if Cruz will receive a sentence of death or life in prison without parole.

A judge will screen jurors next month in hopes testimony can begin in January.

Following his guilty pleas, Cruz, who is now 23, apologized to the relatives of his victims.

Reading from a prepared statement, he said: "I am very sorry for what I did and I have to live with it every day.

"It brings me nightmares.

"If I were to get a second chance I would do everything in my power to try to help others."

Addressing relatives of the victims, Cruz said: "I believe it's your decision to decide where I go, whether I live or die, not the jury's."

Relatives of some of the victims were among the spectators in the courtroom and wiped away tears as a prosecutor recounted the attack in chilling detail.

Will Nikolas Cruz be granted a trial and when will it start?

The jury selection phase commenced on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer will preside over the Nikolas Cruz penalty trial.

During a hearing, Judge Scherer discussed the jury selection process with the present attorneys.

They outlined the number of jury members, what times and dates they would be interviewed, and the merit on how the jurors are selected.

There could be a total of 60 to 75 jurors in the court deciding on the case's verdict.

By the end of Nikolas Cruz's penalty trial, the jury will his fate between the death penalty or life in prison without parole for the assailant.

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