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Families of Parkland shooting victims are awarded $127.5 million

A student mourns the loss of her friend during a community vigil at Pine Trails Park on Feb. 15, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.
Brynn Anderson
A student mourns the loss of her friend during a community vigil at Pine Trails Park on Feb. 15, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.

The United States has agreed to pay the families impacted by the 2018 Parkland mass school shooting millions of dollars, years after attorneys first filed claims against the government alleging an FBI agent's negligence prior to the shooting.

The shooting took place on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where Nikolas Cruz opened fire, killing 17 people and wounding at least 17 more.

The 40 civil cases, which included 16 of the 17 families of those killed, will receive a settlement of $127.5 million, according to a statement by the Justice Department.

"It has been an honor to represent the Parkland families who, through their immeasurable grief, have devoted themselves to making the world a safer place," their lead attorney, Kristina Infante said, The Associated Press reported. "Although no resolution could ever restore what the Parkland families lost, this settlement marks an important step toward justice."

In their lawsuit, the families accused the FBI of negligence. They say the bureau received tips about Cruz, including his amassing of weapons and his desire to shoot up a school, but agents failed to intervene and prevent the violence.

Weeks before the shooting, a tipster told the FBI that Cruz was "going to explode," and that he "was going to slip into a school and start shooting the place up."

Though the DOJ said the settlement "does not amount to an admission of fault by the United States" in its statement.

Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 charges of first-degree murder and an additional 17 charges of attempted murder in October 2021.

He had initially pleaded not guilty to all of the crimes, but his attorneys said they would not contest his guilt. Instead, the group of public defenders who represent Cruz have asked the court to sentence him to 17 life sentences in an effort to avoid the death sentence that prosecutors are seeking.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie
[Copyright 2024 NPR]