March 29, 2018 / 5:50 PM / a year ago

Brother of Florida school shooting suspect pleads no contest to trespass

Zachary Cruz, 18, brother of Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month, appears in Broward court for a bond hearing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. March 29, 2018. Susan Stocker/Pool via REUTERS

(Reuters) - The brother of suspected high school shooter Nikolas Cruz pleaded no contest on Thursday to a trespassing charge and will serve probation for visits he made to the Florida campus since the Feb. 14 massacre.

Zachary Cruz, 18, was sentenced to six months of probation and Broward County Judge Melinda Brown ordered him to keep at least a mile (1.6 km) from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where authorities say his brother Nikolas Cruz fatally shot 17 people in a massacre that revived the national debate on gun control.

In a hearing broadcast online by Miami television station WSVN, Brown said Cruz must wear an ankle monitor, not use drugs or alcohol and not possess firearms or ammunition. He also is barred from contact with families of the school shooting.

Both Cruz brothers once attended Stoneman Douglas but neither graduated from there.

Zachary Cruz was arrested on March 19 after he visited Stoneman Douglas three times, even though school officials had told him to stay away. He had been held on $500,000 bond, which his attorneys argued was excessive.

His lawyer, Joseph Kimok, read a statement in which Cruz apologized for going to the school.

“Zach’s visit to Stoneman Douglas was not to scare anybody,” he said. “He went to make sense of this, nothing else.”

Nikolas Cruz is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder and faces the death penalty if convicted. He is being held at the same jail where his brother had been.

Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Trott

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