One of the public defenders tasked with representing suspected Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz broke down on Thursday during a press conference.
The public defender, Gordon Weeks, told the assembled reporters that Wednesday’s shooting was “a loss for this community.” He continued “a tragic loss of seventeen children” before being overcome with emotion and stepping away from the microphones.
Weeks backed away and tried to contain himself, dropping his head and readjusting his glasses.
Cruz’ other public defender, Melisa McNeill, told reporters that Cruz is “sad, mournful [and] remorseful.” She added “he is fully aware of what is going on and he’s just a broken human being.”
When asked about the victims, McNeill said “I have a tremendous amount of compassion. … sitting across from my client doesn’t mean that we don’t care that we don’t care about the people of this community, the people of this state and the people of this country.”
Later, McNeill said, “this is a national conversation and unfortunately it’s not the first national conversation that we’re having but that’s a conversation that we need to have later. We need to let these families mourn the loss of their children.” Appearing a bit upset, McNeill abruptly ended the impromptu press conference, saying “and I don’t really have anything else that I need to say. I think we’re good here.”
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said on she expects that the state will seek the death penalty, telling Fox News that the state will have to prove premeditation if they hope to put Nikolas Cruz to death.
Cruz was expelled from school at some point in the last two years and his fellow students described him as troubled. His social media profiles were full of photos of him bearing guns and a White Supremacist group in Florida claims that he trained with them on at least one occasion.
Law enforcement identified the gun used as a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 — a semi-automatic similar to the popular AR-15, which is manufactured by Colt. The weapon was reportedly purchased from a gun shop less than eight miles away from the high school where Cruz allegedly opened fire.