PARKLAND, FLA. (WSVN) – The arrest of Zachary Cruz, the half-brother of Parkland shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, after he allegedly trespassed on school grounds rattled nerves among some of the students, but others do not regard the teen as a threat.
7News cameras captured a group of students walking out of the school, Tuesday afternoon.
Monday’s arrest was met with mixed reactions among them.
Student Zach Gordon said he knows the teen. “I’ve known him. He was in my classes in sixth grade,” he said. ‘I don’t think he’s a bad kid. I think he’s a good kid, so I think he was put in the wrong situation, just for being [Nikolas’] brother.”
Monday afternoon, police said, Zachary was spotted skateboarding on school grounds. He was placed under arrest.
A phone call alerted parents of Stoneman Douglas students about the campus intruder.
Student Ryan LoFurno was surprised Zachary was able to get in campus so easily. “It is sort of weird to think about it. Like, we have all this police on campus, and still he got on and was able to skateboard around like that,” he said.
Student Justin Abonce said Zachary broke the law, but his intentions were not malicious. “He’s basically trespassing, but I don’t have much to worry about ’cause he didn’t cause any harm,” he said. “I have nothing to be scared of to go to school.”
Prosecutors said this wasn’t Zachary’s first visit after the shooting.
Greg Pittman, a teacher at Stoneman Douglas, said the arrest raises safety issues that need to be addressed. “Many teachers are concerned with security at our school,” he said.
“The fact that he actually got onto campus without being noticed, it’s a little bit bit concerning,” said parent Michael Mulchan.
Also concerning for some was what, police said, was Zachary’s response when he was caught. According to investigators, the teen said he was on school grounds “to reflect on the school shooting and soak it in.”
“Next time he wants to go soak in stuff, he can come to my house in Coral Springs,” said Andrew Pollack, the father of school shooting victim Meadow Pollack.
The elder Pollack, who spoke to 7News on the phone, said Zachary’s arrest points to a much bigger problem. “I’m not focused on one individual. I’m focused on lots of individuals that shouldn’t be allowed to go onto a school campus,” he said.
Following the arrest, the school called parents with a new after-school security plan. “We do need to be more vigilant during after-school hours,” the recording stated.
The plan includes having three security officers on duty through 6 p.m. and limiting access points after dismissal.
“We continue to make adjustment with law enforcement and on-campus security throughout this process,” the recording stated.
Once released from jail, Zachary will not be allowed to set foot in Broward County unless he is due in court.