U.S.

Parkland Shooter's Brother Talked About A Nikolas Cruz Fan Club, Authorities Claim

Nikolas Cruz's brother talked about setting up a fan club for the alleged Florida school shooter and bragged about how popular he was following the deadly attack, authorities claimed, outlining concerns about his behavior.

At a bond hearing on Tuesday, a prosecutor suggested that Zachary Cruz, 18, should be subject to psychiatric evaluation and prevented from owning a gun, arguing he "has the same flags present as his brother," following an arrest for trespassing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Monday.

Zachary discussed his brother’s “popularity” when he visited him at the jailhouse, Assistant Broward State Attorney Sarahnell Murphy said at the hearing, also claiming he had been overheard discussing setting up a Nikolas Cruz fan club, the Miami Herald reported.

As such, the sheriff’s office argued in favor of Zachary being involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation and banned from owning a gun.

“He has all the same flags present as his brother,” Murphy said in comments carried by the Herald.

“He has been heard and observed discussing how popular his brother is now,” she added. “That his face is everywhere and his name is national. There is discussion of starting some kind of pen pal or fan club, and how many girls he is capable of attracting.”

Zachary was arrested on Monday after going to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed and 17 others injured in the February 14 shooting.

He said he had gone onto the school property to “reflect on the school shooting and to soak it in," an affidavit seen by  ABC Action News states. 

According to a report from authorities, Zachary was warned to stay away from the school property, but “surpassed all locked doors and gates” and skateboarded in, the Palm Beach Post reported.

His visit to the school and alleged conversations with his brother, who is facing the death penalty if he is found guilty of the shooting, appear to have prompted concern from Broward Sheriff’s Office, in what Zachary’s attorney argued was a case of the teen being judged on the alleged actions of his brother.

“He’s being held because of who he’s related to, not because of what he did,” Attorney Joseph Kimok argued.

“To say somehow that Mr Cruz is a danger to the community... is simply fallacy. There’s no indication of violence from Mr. Cruz. There’s just nothing. And the state is seeking to make a show of this.”

However, Judge Kim Theresa Mollica decided the teen should undergo a psychiatric evaluation, also posting a $500,000 bond, despite Zachary’s attorney arguing bond for trespass is normally set at $25 and had already been paid.

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