Former student indicted on 17 counts of murder in Florida school shooting

FILE PHOTO: Nikolas Cruz, facing 17 charges of premeditated murder in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, appears in court for a status hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. February 19, 2018.   REUTERS/Mike Stocker/Pool/File Photo

(Reuters) – A Florida grand jury formally indicted Nikolas Cruz on Wednesday on 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree for last month’s shooting spree at a high school in Parkland, prosecutors said.

No date was set for an arraignment, at which Cruz will be allowed to enter a plea, said Constance Simmons, a spokeswoman for the Broward County state attorney’s office.

The 19-year-old former student is accused of using a semiautomatic assault rifle to kill 17 students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14.

He faces a maximum sentence of either execution or life in prison without parole if convicted. The public defender’s office in Broward County has said Cruz was willing to plead guilty if county prosecutors choose not to pursue the death penalty.

The prosecutors’ office has said a decision on this has not yet been made, according to Simmons.

The attack, one of the deadliest at a school in a country where school shootings happen multiple times a year, has reignited a national debate about overhauling gun laws in Florida and beyond.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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