FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Shaken jurors on Tuesday were shown graphic videos of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz gunning down defenseless students at close range.
The footage — which was not shown to the court gallery at Cruz’s sentencing trial — drew pained expressions from the seven men and five women who will decide if the admitted mass murderer will get executed or locked up for life.
Cruz, 23, put his head down on the defense table as the jurors viewed his footage of his 2018 rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where he gunned down 17 people with an AR-15 rifle.
The videos, captured from school surveillance cameras without sound, showed Cruz returning to some of those he had wounded and firing at them again.
Prosecutors later called a solemn parade of survivors to the stand to testify about their recollections of the massacre.
Samantha Fuentes, now a college student, said she took cover behind a podium as Cruz, then 19, sprayed bullets into her classroom.
“I peeped my head past the podium to look at the door,” she told the court. “That is where I saw Cruz standing there. After he had finished firing he was standing at the window at the door.”
With several of her classmates dead nearby, Fuentes said she felt sharp pains and feared that she had been struck.
“I realized that I had holes in my pants,” she told the court. “I had blood running from the top of my forehead down to my chest. I had blood in my eyes and all over my face and in my hair. I borrowed one of my friends phones to look at myself briefly, and what you would have saw would have disgusted you.”
Fuentes described the grisly aftermath of Cruz’s assault after police eventually entered her classroom.
“I looked at my dead friends and turned around and they told me to run out of the building,” she said. “And they said to look down and not up and that’s where I passed the bodies of two students in the hallway.”
Fuentes suffered a bullet wound to her knee and severe shrapnel injuries that she said continue to plague her to this day, limiting her mobility and flaring up during cold weather.
English teacher Dara Hass wept as she recalled the bedlam in her class after the gunshots began to explode. Three of her students were killed.
“It was so loud, I remember shaking,” she said. “The students were screaming. Students were coming to my desk and screaming and shouting.”
As if describing a warzone, Hass said her room had been obliterated by Cruz’s fusillade.
“You could smell the sulfur from the guns, debris was flying across the room, students were crying,” she said while dabbing her eyes. “So many student had been injured.”
Cruz has already pleaded guilty to the 17 murders.
Prosecutors are pushing for the death penalty while his defense wants life without parole in light of his troubled upbringing and mental deficits.
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