The brother of the suspect in the Florida high school shooting is being accused of violating his probation for earlier trespassing at the school where the massacre occurred.
Palm Beach County jail records show Zachary Cruz was being held without bond Wednesday pending a transfer to neighboring Broward County for a court appearance that has not been scheduled. Cruz was arrested Tuesday on a Broward warrant.
His attorney filed a written plea of not guilty to the probation violation allegation Wednesday.
The warrant says Nikolas Cruz’s 18-year-old brother was stopped last week for driving without a license and was within 25 feet (7.6 meters) of the parking lot of a Lake Worth high school. Nikolas Cruz, 19, is accused of killing 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.
Zachary Cruz is on six months’ probation after pleading no contest in March for trespassing at the Parkland school. Deputies say they found Zachary Cruz riding his skateboard on campus March 19 about two hours after school had been let out. Officials say he had been told to stay away from the school, something his attorney on the trespassing charge, Joseph Kimok, denied.
As part of his probation, Cruz was ordered to stay at least a mile (1.6 kilometers) from Stoneman Douglas and to not enter any school unless enrolled. The brothers are both former Stoneman Douglas students.
Kimok said in an email Wednesday he has not yet been appointed to represent Cruz on the probation violation but he said he is “very concerned” about the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s conduct in this arrest. First, he said it is “very unusual” for a probation violation to be filed for driving without a license.
He also said Cruz is not banned from being near a school other than Stoneman Douglas.
“We all drive past and walk past schools every day and many public parks are located near schools so I’m concerned if, as it appears, BSO has violated him simply for going near a school. That just wasn’t a condition we agreed to as part of his plea,” Kimok said.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office did not have any immediate comment on Kimok’s statement.
Attorneys for Nikolas Cruz have conceded he is the shooter and say he would plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.
Also Wednesday, a nonprofit civil rights organization called Nexus Derechos Humanos said it is planning to file a federal lawsuit on Zachary Cruz’s behalf challenging how he has been treated by law enforcement. The group claimed in an email news release that Zachary Cruz’s rights are being violated and he has been subjected to “intimidation” solely because of the identity of his brother.