Florida shooting suspect attends brief court hearing


PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz has appeared in court for a procedural hearing.

Cruz said nothing at Monday’s hearing in Broward County Circuit Court, the first he attended in person and not via teleconference from jail. He kept his head down and did not appear to make eye contact with the judge or others in the courtroom, though he responded briefly to someone on the defense team at the end of the hearing.

The hearing concerned the rules going forward of how documents would be sealed. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said she was in favor of openness whenever possible.

Cruz is charged with killing 17 people and wounding many others in Wednesday’s shooting attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which he once attended.

His lawyers have said he will plead guilty if prosecutors agree not to pursue the death penalty. No decision has been made on that.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Bill Galvano, a Republican and incoming Senate president, says the Florida Senate is preparing a sweeping package of legislation in the aftermath of the deadly shooting.

The legislation includes new age restrictions for gun purchases, a ban on bump stocks and gun violence restraining orders.

Seventeen people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week and legislative leaders saw firsthand the building where the shootings took place.

The Senate is considering a wide array of measures that also include boosting spending on mental health programs for schools and giving law-enforcement greater power to involuntarily hold someone considered a danger to themselves.

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