Who is John Wilford? Nikolas Cruz walked into McDonald's after shooting and asked victim's brother for ride

Surveillance footage showed Nikolas Cruz casually heading to a McDonald's after grabbing a drink at a Subway following the shooting


                            Who is John Wilford? Nikolas Cruz walked into McDonald's after shooting and asked victim's brother for ride
Nikolas Cruz (Inset) chatted with John Wilford (L) at a McDonald's (R) after the shooting (Law&Crime Network/YouTube screenshot, @LawCrimeNetwork/Twitter, Broward's Sheriff's Office via Getty Images)
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FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA: Nikolas Cruz's trial has entered its fourth day. A jury is set to determine if the confessed Parkland school shooter will be sentenced to death. Opening arguments in the penalty phase of Cruz's trial began on Monday, July 18. The trial is expected to take several months, at the end of which the jury's decision has to be unanimous to sentence him to death.

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Describing the massacre as a "planned, systematic ... mass murder", prosecutor Mike Satz said in his opening statement on the trial's first day, "Three days before the massacre, Cruz made a video saying, 'My name is Nik. I'm going to be the next school shooter of 2018. My goal is at least 20 people with an AR-15 and some tracer rounds. It's gonna be a big event and when you see me on the news you'll know who I am. You're all gonna die. ... I can't wait.'" 

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Surveillance footage played in court on Thursday, July 21, showed the gunman casually heading to a McDonald's after grabbing a drink at a Subway following the shooting. At McDonald's, he chatted with the brother of one of his victims. This happened 25 minutes after his evil rampage unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018. 

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Nikolas Cruz in court on the fourth day of the trial (Law&Crime Network/YouTube screenshot)
Nikolas Cruz in court on the fourth day of the trial (Law&Crime Network/YouTube screenshot)
Nikolas Cruz casually walks into a McDonald's after the shooting (@LawCrimeNetwork/Twitter)
Nikolas Cruz casually walks into a McDonald's after the shooting (@LawCrimeNetwork/Twitter)

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In the video, Cruz shows no signs of nervousness or stress. Subway manager Carlos Rugeles confirmed that the gunman ordered a cherry and blue raspberry icee. The victim's brother John Wilford, with whom Cruz had a conversation, testified on Thursday, July 21, that the suspect asked him for a ride home. The pair, however, had not met before. John denied Cruz's request. "He was pretty insistent on it. I wasn't really thinking much of it. I just wanted to get home and my sister wasn't answering her phone," he told the court. "Everyone was kind of panicked, not knowing what was going on. I was trying to get a hold of my sister and she wasn't picking up, so I called my mother to meet her at McDonald's."

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John Wilford (Law&Crime Network/YouTube screenshot)
John Wilford (Law&Crime Network/YouTube screenshot)

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Who is John Wilford?

Not much is known about John Wilford except that he is Parkland shooting survivor Maddy's brother. Back at the school, Maddy, then 18, had been shot three times in the arm and torso by Cruz. Wilford said he tried to make small talk as he sat at the restaurant with Cruz. "I told him, `This is so chaotic, it´s crazy with all these helicopters and squad cars. What do you think this could be?'' Wilford recalled. 'He didn't say much. He had his head down."

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Before Wilford testified, Cruz's lawyers argued that his behavior in the aftermath of the shooting was irrelevant. Prosecutors said that his casual attitude indicated how remorseless he was, and Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer agreed. 

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John Wilford, with whom Cruz had a conversation, testified that the suspect asked him for a ride home despite the two never having met before (@LawCrimeNetwork/Twitter)
John Wilford, with whom Cruz had a conversation, testified that the suspect asked him for a ride home despite the two never having met before (@LawCrimeNetwork/Twitter)

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Cruz, then 19, shot dead 14 students and three staff members at his former school Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida on February 14, 2018. He pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder last fall in connection with the shooting.

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