On Feb. 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School just outside of Miami, Florida. The tragedy became known as the Parkland school shooting.
Today (Oct. 13), a Florida jury decided that instead of receiving the death penalty, the Parkland shooter would spend life in prison. Cruz will not have the possibility of parole. Parents and loved ones of the slain victims have slammed the court’s ruling. Tony Montalto lost his 14-year-old daughter Gina during the massacre.
At a press conference after Cruz’s fate was announced, the father said, “Society has to really look and re-examine who and what is a victim. Not everyone’s a victim. My beautiful Gina, the other sons and daughters, spouses and fathers — they were the victims here.” Montalto felt the jury took pity on the Parkland gunman because he “had a tough upbringing.” He added, “I see my beautiful daughter’s face around our home, in my dreams. And I miss her very much.”
Montalto heads the advocacy group Stand With Parkland. While addressing the media, he read a prepared statement. “Today’s ruling was yet another gut punch for so many of us who devastatingly lost our loved ones on that tragic Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Seventeen beautiful lives were cut short, by murder — heinous, pre-planned torturous murder. And the monster that killed them gets to live another day,” he said.
He continued, “While this sentence fails to punish the perpetrator to the fullest extent of the law, it will not stop our mission of the families that stand with Parkland to effect positive change at a federal, state and local level to prevent school shooting tragedies from shattering other American families.” According to CNN, although the jury acknowledged Cruz was eligible for the death penalty, they did not believe the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating ones.