The teenager suspected of carrying out Wednesday's mass shooting at a Florida high school is on suicide watch in jail and “sad and remorseful” as he faces 17 counts of premeditated murder, according to his attorneys.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, was taken into custody by local police Wednesday after tragedy struck Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people died from gunshot wounds and another 14 were injured.
One of Cruz’s attorneys described his mental state as that of a “child.”
“What was relayed to me was ‘He is such a child,’” Gordon Weekes, a chief assistant for Broward County’s public defenders office, told the Sun Sentinel. “That’s the impression our attorneys are getting.”
Weekes added that Cruz was wearing a black suicide-prevention vest.
Another public defender for Cruz, Melissa McNeill, spoke about the loss her client had experienced in life—his brain had not fully developed. But she said he understood the gravity of the situation.
“He’s sad. He’s mournful. He’s remorseful,” McNeill told reporters. “He is fully aware of what is going on. And he’s just a broken human being. I can’t disclose any conversations I’ve had with him.”
Weekes explained how the defense team was reeling from the shooting.
“Could you just make sure the community understands, from the defense’s standpoint, we understand the level of mourning that is going on in the community and we join in that mourning,” Weekes said.
He added, “We are parents. Our kids attend schools in this community as well. We know what those parents are going through. Actually, we can never know exactly what they are going through, but we can appreciate and empathize with their grief.
Cruz appeared in court for the first time Thursday, when he was ordered held without bail.
White supremacist group the Republic of Florida claimed on Thursday that Cruz had trained with it or had some affiliation. One member of the group told the Anti-Defamation league that Cruz had taken part in one or more training exercises with the group.
More from Newsweek