Nikolas Cruz: Suspected Parkland school shooter says his inheritance should go to victims’ fund

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The Florida school shooting suspect has offered to donate any inheritance money he is eligible for to the victims and families of the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 dead.

Nikolas Cruz’s lawyer said the 19-year-old, who is alleged to have opened fire at the school in the small city of Parkland, does not want any money from his mother’s life insurance policy or any other source of income after reports surfaced he could potentially inherit $800,000 (£648,600) from his parents.

It is not yet known whether the families of the 14 students and three members of staff killed or the more than a dozen left injured would accept such a gesture of reconciliation from the accused teenager.

Melissa McNeill, his lawyer, said: “Mr Cruz does not want those funds, whatever money that he is entitled to. He does not want that money. 

“He would like that money donated to an organisation that the victims’ family believes would be able to facilitate healing in our community or an opportunity to educate our community about the issues that have ripened over the last four or five months.”

Mr Cruz was in court on Wednesday for a hearing to decide whether he has too much money to expect taxpayers to pay for his legal defence. 

But whether Mr Cruz is in that grouping is in an open question and Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said she would not respond immediately and instead give a ruling later this month.

Appearing in court in a red prison jumpsuit and shackles, the teenager kept his head bowed during the hearing and did not speak for the entirety of it. 

“Let it go to those who have been hurt,” Howard Finkelstein, another public defender, told Ms Scherer.

Mr Finkelstein started to reiterate that Mr Cruz was prepared to plead guilty if the option of the death penalty was removed but Ms Scherer and prosecuting lawyer Shari Tate interjected.

“The state of Florida is not allowing Mr Cruz to choose his own punishment for the murder of 17 people,” Ms Tate said.

The hearing comes after it emerged the accused Parkland shooter has been receiving piles of fan mail at the Florida prison where he is being held.

Mr Cruz has been sent suggestive photographs, greeting cards, encouragement and other kind notes, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel which gained copies of some of the messages.

The paper showed a thick stack of hundreds of pages of photocopies of the letters he has had posted to him.

“You’re in a tough spot, Nik and that is something I know, because I’ve been there myself. If you need something, I can mail to you … ask. If you need to talk … I’ll listen,” one letter penned to Mr Cruz read.

Mr Finkelstein, whose office Broward County represents Mr Cruz, voiced concerns about the notoriety Mr Cruz was gaining.

“The letters shake me up because they are written by regular, everyday teenage girls from across the nation. That scares me. It’s perverted,” he said.

But it is by no means a new phenomenon and the pattern of so-called “serial-killer groupies” with other killers and men accused of violent crimes has been witnessed before.