Judge raises bond of Parkland gunman's brother to $500,000

Zachary Cruz, 18, accused of trespassing at Stoneman Douglas 3 times

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The brother of Parkland gunman Nikolas Cruz appeared in court Tuesday, where a Broward County judge raised his bond from just $25 to $500,000, a day after he was arrested for allegedly trespassing on the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

According to the arrest report, Zachary Cruz, 18, told deputies that he went to the campus to "reflect on the school shooting and soak it in."

But according to prosecutor Sarahnell Murphy, Zachary Cruz has trespassed three times at the school since the shooting and was told by the vice principal not to return.

Murphy said  Zachary Cruz has also had disturbing conversations with his brother, discussing how "popular" his brother now was, how his face is well-known across the country and discussing the possibility of starting a fan club for Nikolas Cruz.

The prosecutor said Zachary Cruz also has a prior criminal history from 2016 for charges of grand theft, petty theft and criminal mischief. 

She said many Parkland families are in fear and have kept their children home from school Tuesday because of the trespassing incidents.

She asked the judge to set the bond at $750,000.

The defense countered that the trespassing charge has a standard bond of $25 and that Zachary Cruz is being punished because of his relationship to Nikolas Cruz.

"He is being held because of who he is related to, not because of anything that he did," the defense attorney said. 

Ultimately, Judge Kim Theresa Mollica did raise Zachary Cruz's bond and ordered that he be placed on house arrest with a GPS monitor if he posts bail.

She also ordered that Zachary Cruz stay at least 1 mile away from Stoneman Douglas, not return to Broward County unless it's for a court appearance or to speak with his attorneys, stay at least 500 feet away from any school or child care facility and not have any direct or indirect contact with his brother.

Mollica also ordered that Zachary Cruz's home in Lake Worth be searched by authorities for any weapons or ammunition before he returns home. 

Deputies said security cameras showed Zachary Cruz riding his skateboard onto the school grounds, bypassing the campus' locked doors and gates about 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter, Alyssa, was one of 17 people killed in the Feb. 14 shooting, is furious. Alhadeff said the fact that he even got on school property is cause for concern. 

"How is he able just to skateboard onto campus?" she said.

The brother of Alaina Petty, who was also killed in the shooting, called the trespassing incidents "truly sickening."

"Have we not learned anything from the events just (one) month ago?" Patrick Petty posted on Twitter. "@ScottJIsrael @browardsheriff #MSDSTONG has armed deputies 24/7. We should be the safest school in America. Clearly, We. Are. Not." 

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie called Zachary Cruz's actions odd, and said, "I understand it does creep people out."

After the shooting, people close to Zachary Cruz said he wanted to harm himself, and he underwent a mental health evaluation. Zachary Cruz has denied that he wanted to harm himself. 

According to investigators from Palm Beach and Broward counties, Zachary Cruz told authorities that he and his friends had bullied his older brother, something he now regrets.

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