The former student who killed 17 people and injured 17 others during a rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018 pleaded guilty on all counts on Wednesday.
The gunman, who will not be named per The Daily Wire policy, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder. In the next phase of the trial, a jury will decide whether the murderer, a 23-year-old male, will face life in prison or the death penalty.
The guilty pleas were expected. One of the gunman’s attorneys, David Wheeler, announced the defense’s intent to plead guilty to all crimes last week. “It is our intent to enter a change of plea as to both cases to all charges,” Wheeler said.
The gunman pleaded guilty to his crimes in front of a courtroom filled with the families of the victims of the February 14, 2018, shooting. After confessing, the gunman apologized and made an anti-drug statement, according to The New York Times.
“I am very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it every day,” the gunman said. “I love you, and I know you don’t believe me.”
“I believe this country would do better if everyone would stop smoking marijuana and doing all these drugs and causing racism and violence out in the streets,” he added.
Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer scheduled the next court date in the case for October 26.
On February 14, 2018, the gunman walked into his former high school in Parkland, Florida, armed with a semiautomatic rifle. During a shooting spree that lasted less than ten minutes, the gunman fatally shot 14 students and three school staff members.
The gunman would later walk out of the high school, blending into the crowd of students and escaping while law enforcement waited outside. Half an hour after his rampage, the gunman was arrested in a nearby neighborhood.
Much blame for the massacre has been placed on former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and other law enforcement responsible for the security of the school, as well as policies that kept administrators and law enforcement from cracking down on problematic students. Israel was suspended and reinstated as sheriff over the mass shooting before losing his bid for reelection last year.
A state commission tasked with investigating the shooting recommended a number of changes to prevent a similar event in the future. As The Daily Wire reported at the time:
The state commission tasked with investigating the tragic Parkland school shooting, which left 17 people dead, unanimously approved its comprehensive 458-page report Wednesday, and it’s causing a stir. Among its most notable recommendations is that trained teachers should be allowed to carry weapons on campus and internal investigations should be opened into multiple deputies under Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
The report, produced by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, puts the onus on school districts, law enforcement agencies, and state leaders to implement effective reforms in schools to better protect students from future tragedies. After being formally approved by the commission Wednesday, the report passes to state leaders, including newly elected Gov. Ron DeSantis.