NewsParkland Shooting


Parkland families express disappointment, heartbreak after jury recommends life in prison for Nikolas Cruz

'We are beyond disappointed with the outcome today,' Alyssa Alhadeff's mother says
17 victims of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland
Posted at 1:29 PM, Oct 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-13 23:30:46-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Family members who lost loved ones in the Parkland school shooting are reacting to Thursday's announcement that a jury recommended life in prison for Nikolas Cruz.

Under Florida law, a death sentence requires a unanimous vote on at least one count. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer will formally issue the sentence at a later date.

Shortly after the recommendation, multiple family members of the victims vehemently voiced their displeasure with the jury.

RELATED: Victims in Parkland school shooting

WATCH: Tony Montalto reacts to jury decision

Father of Gina Montalto calls Parkland jury's recommendation 'gut punch'

"Today's ruling was yet another gut punch for so many of us who devastatingly lost our loved ones on that tragic Valentine's Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School," said Tony Montalto, father of Gina Montalto and President of Stand with Parkland. "Seventeen beautiful lives were cut short by murder, and the monster that killed them gets to live to see another day. While this sentence fails to punish the perpetrator to the fullest extent of the law — it will not stop our mission to effect positive change at a federal, state and local level to prevent school shooting tragedies from shattering other American families."

WATCH: Ilan, Lori Alhadeff react to jury decision

Parents of Alyssa Alhadeff irate over jury recommendation of Nikolas Cruz's

In a news conference held shortly after court ended, the parents of multiple victims shared their thoughts on the decision by the jurors.

The parents of Alyssa Alhadeff were irate that Cruz will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

"We are beyond disappointed with the outcome today," Lori Alhadeff, Alyssa's mother, said. "This should have been the death penalty, 100%."

Alyssa Alhadeff was shot eight times in the massacre that claimed 17 lives on Feb. 14, 2018.

"I'm disgusted with our legal system," Ilan Alhadeff, Alyssa's father said. "I'm disgusted with those jurors ... what do we have the death penalty for? What is the purpose of it?"

Ilan Alhadeff said he feared the jury's recommendation would set a precedent for future mass shooters.

"You set a precedent for the next mass killing that nothing happens to you. You'll get life in jail," Ilan Alhadeff passionately said. "As a country, we need to stand up and say, 'That's not OK.' I pray that that animal suffers every day of his life in jail, and he should have a short life."

Lori Alhadeff said when she arrived in court Thursday morning that there wasn't a doubt in her mind that the jury would recommend the death penalty.

"I'm beyond disgusted," Lori Alhadeff said.

WATCH: Fred Guttenberg reacts to jury decision

Father of Jaime Guttenberg 'devastated' by Parkland jury's decision

Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg, said Thursday's decision by the jury caused him to be "stunned" and "devastated."

He believed that the jury's recommendations did not result in justice for the victims.

"This jury failed our families today, but I will tell you the monster's going to go to prison and in prison, I hope and pray he receives the kind of mercy from prisoners that he showed to my daughter and the 16 others," Fred Guttenberg said. "He is going to go to prison, and he will die in prison."

Guttenberg said he believes the jury's decision only makes it more likely that another mass shooting will be attempted.

"I looked at my wife and I just said, 'shame, anger, devastation,'" Guttenberg said in reference to his reaction shortly after hearing the jury's recommendation.

He said he believes at least one juror lied to get on the jury and was never going to vote for the death penalty.

"The state (prosecution team) did everything they possibly could have done," Guttenberg said. "To be a defense attorney, in a situation like this, I get it, you have a job, but it doesn't mean you need to lose your humanity towards the victims, which they did."

WATCH: Schulman family expresses anger over jury decision

Michael Schulman says Nikolas Cruz 'deserves to die'

Linda Beigel Schulman and Michael Schulman, who lost their son Scott Beigel in the tragedy, were also heartbroken by Wednesday's announcement.

"This animal deserves to die. He hunted all these people. He planned this for months," Michael Schulman said.

"If this was not the most perfect death penalty case, then why do we have the death penalty at all?" Linda Beigel Schulman asked.

WATCH: Joaquin Oliver's mother, sister share reaction

Mother, sister of Joaquin Oliver express shock of jury's decision in Parkland case

The mother and sister of Joaquin Oliver, who was 17 years old when he died in the shooting, also expressed their outrage over the jury's decision.

"We are in shock, disgusted," Andrea Ghersi, Joaquin Oliver's sister, said. "How is this even possible? How are we standing here right now with this verdict when it should have been clear as day, extremely transparent, a death sentence?"

Patricia Oliver, Joaquin's mother, said the decision of one juror caused justice not to be served.

Joaquin's father, Manuel Oliver, who has been very outspoken about federal action on gun violence, tweeted his disappointment, saying the jury's decision sends the wrong message to mass murders.

WATCH: Max Schachter 'devastated' by jury decision

Father of Alex Schachter 'devastated' by jury announcement in Parkland case

Max Schachter, the father of Alex Schachter, who was 14 when he was killed in the shooting, professed his disappointment in the Parkland jury's decision not to give Nikolas Cruz the death penalty.

"We thought that we were going to get justice. We thought that he was going to be held accountable for his actions," Schachter said. "(The jury's decision is) a travesty of justice. It's just heartbreaking."