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Where is the Parkland school shooter? The state won’t say

Some family members of the victims have openly wished for Nikolas Cruz’s fellow inmates to make the 24-year-old killer pay for his crimes with his life.
 
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz was sentenced in November to 34 consecutive life terms in prison.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz was sentenced in November to 34 consecutive life terms in prison. [ AMY BETH BENNETT | South Florida Sun-Sentinel ]
Published Jan. 4, 2023

FORT LAUDERDALE — The gunman who murdered 17 people at a Parkland high school nearly five years ago has spent the last nine weeks in the custody of the Florida of Corrections.

Where? That’s anyone’s guess.

In an unusually secretive move, the state has refused to disclose the location of convicted killer Nikolas Cruz, 24, who was sentenced to 34 consecutive life terms for the murders and attempted murders he committed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018. The sentencing came at the end of a highly publicized trial that ended in October with the jury failing to reach unanimous agreement on putting the defendant to death.

Cruz’s own lawyers said the jury’s act of mercy stood in stark contrast to the defendant’s own actions at the school, but some family members of the victims openly wished for the gunman’s fellow inmates to do what the state now cannot — make Cruz pay for his crimes with his life.

That is the likeliest reason the defendant’s whereabouts have not been disclosed. The Florida Department of Corrections is permitted under state law to withhold information that would ordinarily be disclosed if publishing the information creates a security risk.

“You’re talking about someone who could easily be murdered by another inmate,” said Ron McAndrew, a retired Florida prison warden who is now an expert witness on the corrections system. “They’re going to do everything they can to keep him alive. Too many inmates have nothing to lose.”

There is another option — Florida is one of many states that participate in the Interstate Prison Compact, an agreement to effectively exchange high-profile prisoners when lives might be at stake. Multiple sources say Cruz is not part of that program and that he remains in Florida.

The Florida Department of Corrections did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.