Nikolas Cruz will plead guilty; will we do the right thing too?

Nikolas Cruz will plead guilty; will we do the right thing too?

Nikolas Cruz will plead guilty; will we do the right thing too?

Seeking to avoid the death penalty, Nikolas Cruz, the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has offered to plead guilty to 17 acts of premeditated murder. The prosecutors should accept this offer and end the proceedings as quickly as possible. In order to avoid more sensationalism and encouraging copycats, this would be the right thing to do. Cruz is responsible for the latest mass shooting in America. His propensity to cause this violence was known to authorities, but for several reasons, he managed to carry out his deadly wishes this week. Information on the victims of the shooting can be found here.

It is unusual that a mass shooter has been taken alive. Usually these events end with their death, either by force or through their own self-inflicted injury. In this case, it was reported that Cruz made his getaway from the school by blending into the chaos as others exited the buildings. He got a drink at a Subway, then sat at a McDonald’s for a few minutes. He was taken into custody less than an hour after the attack. Perhaps we can learn more from him, if we are willing to listen.

Another unusual thing about this incident, is that it has provoked much more of an outpouring of what I believe is missing from our society – compassion for those suffering, not just as victims of crimes, but an openness to those who have committed these crimes. If Nikolas Cruz had gotten the right help at the right time, I firmly believe 17 people would not be dead. That he picked up a gun and did this unspeakable act is only the last predictable step in his unhappy life. We don’t know that much about his home life yet, except that he was adopted, and his adoptive mother died three months ago. He was frequently in trouble at school, and police were called to his home many times. These facts were known to authorities, who for the most part probably did everything they thought they could (except for the FBI, that mistake has proved unacceptably consequential). Here are more facts about Cruz’ troubled childhood:

But here’s where we need to rethink everything. We need to let the policy ideas aside for a few minutes, and concentrate on thinking about those who are right now feeling ostracized and isolated. Those are the ones who will be on our television screens next, bringing us to tears and uncontrollable anger that this could happen again.

We need to understand that while we are not doing anything wrong ourselves, we have a duty as humans to establish connections with one another. It is not optional, and as much as we’d like to pick and choose, sometimes we just need to talk to that weird person next to us. Pay attention to those who are unusually quiet one day. Observe who is left out of the party planning. This is not just for our children, it is true for each of us adults, too. We all need acceptance. And it honestly doesn’t take much to give someone a little lift. Come on, you’ve felt it yourself when someone does a small, but kind deed for you. Perhaps just noticing you instead of brushing past. It will make you feel good, too.

This is the difficult thing we don’t want to do. Compared to this, passing laws is easy. We argue about passing laws, because it helps us to avoid talking about connecting with one another. Let’s truly turn the other cheek when our political enemies throw the blame our way. Someone has to rise above the pettiness in order to truly address the problem. There is plenty of time to argue about policy, but we have run out of time to fix our unity.

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  • Legally – technically – Timothy McVeigh also offered to plead guilty; if the Prosecutor, Judge and/or Jury would allow him to provide the court with his honest necessity [] reasons for his actions. Either his own attorneys or the prosecutor and/or Judge refused to allow him the opportunity to plead to necessity; to educate the public about his reasons for why he did what he did. McVeigh’s execution was faked, presumably by individuals who objected to his denial of a necessity defence [].

    Legally – technically – Osama Bin Laden also offered to plead guilty; if the United States Government would allow the Taliban to transfer him to the International Criminal Court, and if the International Criminal Court Prosecutor and Judges would allow him to provide the court with his honest necessity reasons for his actions. The United States Government refused the Taliban’s offer.

    Legally – technically – Anders Breivik also offered to plead guilty; if the Prosecutor, Judge and/or Jury would allow him to provide the court with his honest necessity reasons for his actions. Initially his own attorneys refused demanding he plead to insanity; and then the Prosecutors proceeded to accuse him of mental disorders. EoP MILED Clerk, on behalf of EoP Applicants; filed applications [ &] requesting Breivik be granted a free and fair trial. The insanity allegations were minimized and Breivik was allowed a partial necessity defence.

    A copy of this comment is posted at

  • Ronald Lane says:

    I respectfully ask the question: Where does one draw the line? Should we have had pity for poor Charles Manson? Adolph Hitler was also a poor misunderstood soul, too. Has history misjudged him as well? What this kid did is called premeditated murder. He told people he was going to do it. He didn’t just fly off the handle, he thought about it. He purchased the guns and planned it. But I guess it’s alright, because it’s our fault. We missed all the signs, didn’t we? If only someone with some compassion would have stepped in to intervene, all this wouldn’t have happened. We’re not a compassionate society. But it did happen. And now he’s sorry. “So sorry.” “I’m sorry.” “Sorry!” And so because we missed the chance to help this poor tortured and misguided soul we need to be punished for our neglect. We need to support, house, feed and clothe this poor wretched being that we created. We need to blast his name all over the place because he’s a martyr and a symbol of how wicked we are as a society to have allowed this terrible innocent life to have become such a tortured soul. It’s OK that you were an orphan who’s life didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. It’s OK to kill innocent people because you’re angered that the only people who loved you died and left you to fend for yourself. The families and friends of those murdered in cold blood for simply trying to live there lives will just have to understand, won’t they? They’ll have to live for the rest of their lives knowing that their tax dollars are going to feed and house this poor misunderstood youth while their loved ones ashes are sitting on the mantle or their remains are rotting in the ground. They’ll have the opportunity to look at the pictures and portraits of the ones who they loved more than life itself everyday and be comforted by the fact that the one who took them away from them is alive and well and he’s sorry. So sorry.

    • Jenny North says:

      No one has to feel sorry for him. He is going to have to pay for what he has done. But this post is about stopping the next one.

      If we continue to take a “not my responsibility” approach – even if it isn’t our responsibility, we aren’t going to change anything. Both sides are entrenched on this issue, and we can continue to battle it out on the policy front. And we should, because the foundations of our nation are truly at stake.

      But in the meantime, community ties have fallen apart, and I firmly believe that is a chief cause of these actions. If we don’t fix that, who will?

  • Timmy says:

    That shooting started 15 years ago. Look at history. Why don’t we have mental health screenings in school? He got kicked out, thrown away, problems solved, right? Nope.

    Society failed that boy.

    How many thousands, millions more are there of him out there waiting for a trigger?

    We will reap what we have sowed.

  • Timmy says:

    Jenny, I have a story you might want to write about. How can I contact you?

  • Ida says:

    I agree, all of these begin with a “why?”. If these children were accepted by society and not ostracized, these vengeful thoughts would not have begun. There are some people who can handle such bullying but there are those who lack the ability to overcome these experiences. Reasons may come from family background or just psychological factors. It is up to us to pay attention to these types of things and take action once signs for help are happening.

  • Arjuna says:

    Jenny, Thank you so much for writing this! Finally a voice of reason arises from this tragic and polarizing situation. You are 100% correct when you we can learn something from him if we are willing to listen. The problem here is that few are willing to listen, it is too easy to allow emotions to dictate one’s position in what is a very complex matter.

    If this kid truly got the help he needed, when he needed it, 17 people would likely be alive today. Yes, he pulled the trigger, he is accountable for his horrific actions. But make no mistake the system failed him miserably, AND consequentially his victims.

    • Jenny North says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting. We need to get serious about preventing the next one and we are distracted by policy arguments.

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