Brother of Florida school shooting suspect to move to Virginia for ‘fresh start’
Amy Beth Bennett-Pool/Getty Images(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — Zachary Cruz, the younger brother of the Parkland, Florida, shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, will be moving to Virginia for a year for a fresh start following his brother’s alleged deadly rampage on Valentine’s Day.
Zachary Cruz had petitioned the court to move to Staunton, Virginia, to “restart his young life in a fresh location where the stigma of his brother’s alleged actions will not isolate him from the world,” according to a motion filed previously.
For one year, Zachary Cruz would live for free and be employed for Homes by Nexus as a maintenance mechanic, the motion read. Terry Ann Johnson, director of Serve by Nexus, a charity bail program, would be Zachary Cruz’s caretaker while he’s in Virginia.
When he took the stand, Zachary Cruz told the court and judge, “I have an opportunity there that I don’t have here.”
Broward County Judge Mindy Brown agreed.
“I believe that Mr. Cruz is given an opportunity that is obviously something that I don’t think we can offer him in Broward County,” she said. “You need to just take this moment and appreciate what they’re offering you.”
The judge emphasized the importance of seizing this opportunity because no one else had offered something like this for Cruz. She told him she knew this was a trying time for him these last few months.
“I’m not gonna stop you. I’m gonna send you to Virginia,” she said.
Zachary Cruz has made numerous headlines since the Feb. 14 mass shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He is currently serving a six-month probation for trespassing on the Stoneman Douglas campus. He then violated his probation by driving without a license.
On Friday, the judge warned Zachary Cruz to not violate his probation again or he would return to court.
While in Virginia, Brown ordered Zachary Cruz to wear a GPS ankle monitor and have mandatory weekly meetings with a pastor and counselors, as well as a weekly drug test, among other requirements. Zachary Cruz acknowledged he will follow all mandates ordered by the judge. He will also take online courses to earn his high school diploma.
In a statement to ABC News prior to the hearing, Nexus Services, of which Serve by Nexus and Homes by Nexus are a part, said, “Rather than castigate him to a lifetime of painful memories and societal abandonment, we believe this fresh start is exactly what he needs to seek a brighter future and become a contributing member to society.” They call Zachary Cruz a “remarkable young man” who “suffered more trauma than most of us ever could imagine.”
Nexus Services “specializes in reentry support and supervision for those in need of help rebuilding productive lives post-incarceration or post-treatment.”
Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and is being held at the Broward County Jail without bond. He has pleaded not guilty but his lawyers said he would change his plea to guilty in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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