'It's probably a drill': Parkland survivors detail SHOCKING moment Nikolas Cruz began firing
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA: Nikolas Cruz's trial has entered its second 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.
Describing the massacre as a "planned, systematic ... mass murder", prosecutor Mike Satz said in his opening statement, "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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On Tuesday, July 19, day 2 of the trial, several former students of the school who were present on the day of the shooting testified about how they survived the massacre. While one former student identified Cruz as the gunman who told him to "get out of here" before starting to shoot, another said her injuries still hurt.
Among the witnesses was former student Daniela Menescal, who thought a drill was underway when the shooting started, until a bullet hit her. "When I told my friend, 'don’t worry, it’s probably a drill,' and then I felt a sharp pain in my back," Menescal said. "I looked down and noticed my white pants were full of blood and I realized it wasn’t a drill."
English teacher Dara Hass said she too initially thought it was a drill. "We heard the pop-pop-pop, the sound of the gunshots. It happened quick,” she said. "My first instinct was it was a drill so I went to shut the blinds but the sound, it was so loud." Several students who were in her class died in the attack. "I remember shaking and telling the students to go where they need to go, it was a drill. The students were screaming, students were coming to my desk and screaming and shouting," Hass said. "I saw that it was not a drill."
Former student Alex Dworet was wounded in the attack. “I remember feeling a sensation on the back of my head, a hot sensation,” he said. “I remember feeling trickling down the back of my head and onto my chest." While he managed to survive the attack, his brother, Nicholas, died. “I still didn’t want to believe it was a shooting,” Alex Dworet said. “I wanted to stay calm."
Former student William Olson, too, was wounded in the attack. "There’s blood all over me,” he said. “I don’t realize what’s going on." Describing how stunned he was, Olson said, "I don’t know [how it happened] but I realized I was wounded when I was lying in front of the teacher’s desk."
Ex-student Christopher McKenna was in English class and had gone to use the bathroom before the shooting began. He was the first to encounter Cruz in the corridor before the massacre began. "He had a rifle in his hand,” said McKenna. “I was stunned for a minute and he said, 'get out of here, things are going to get bad.’” McKenna ran outside only to hear gunfire erupt from inside the school. Assistant football coach Aaron Feis drove him to safety on a golf cart. Unfortunately, Feis was killed in the shooting.
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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.