Photo Credit: Mike Stocker / Associated Press

Nikolas Cruz Charged With 17 Counts Of Murder In Florida School Shooting

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The Parkland school gunman has been formally charged.

The Broward County Grand Jury indicted Florida gunman Nikolas Cruz on 34 counts Wednesday, in relation to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting.

The jury charged Cruz with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree. The indictment came as students returned for the first full day of classes since the 19-year-old killed 17 people on February 14. It has been deemed one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history.

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Cruz confessed to the killings, and his lawyers have offered a plea bargain — consecutive life sentences without parole — in a bid to avoid a trial and execution.

“The only question is does he live or does he die?” Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein said in a statement. “The question for the community, and specifically the victims’ families — is it worth what will be a three-year trial odyssey followed by a 15-year appellate odyssey?”

The state attorney, Michael J. Satz, who will try Cruz, has said the mass shooting “certainly is the type of case the death penalty was designed for.” He has not yet said if he will seek capital punishment. An arraignment for Cruz to enter a plea is expected to be set in the next few weeks.

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In Tallahassee on Wednesday, state House representatives debated a bill that would raise the age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21, requiring a three-day waiting period for most gun purchases and ban the sale or possession of bump-fire stocks. It's known as the "Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act."