The families of the victims of the Parkland school shooting expressed their shock and disgust after a jury spared Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz from death penalty on Thursday, giving him instead a life sentence without parole.

Cruz, the 24-year-old school shooter who killed 14 students and three staff members at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in 2018, had undergone a three-month trial to determine whether or not he should be executed for his crimes, according to the AP News.

A death penalty sentencing in Florida requires a unanimous vote from the jury on at least one count. While many did believe that the circumstances warranted death penalty against Cruz, some believed that mitigating factors, like “untreated issues” during his childhood, kept the jury from agreeing that he deserved the death penalty.

The jury decided to spare Cruz the execution and instead give him a life sentence without parole. The families of the victims of the Parkland massacre, many of whom attended that day, were “visibly upset and angry” when the decision was revealed, with many expressing their frustration at a press conference afterwards, BBC reported.

Some of the parents openly sobbed as they left the courtroom disappointed about the decision, while others shook their heads in anger or covered their eyes in frustration. Corey Hixon, whose father Christopher was killed that day, left the courtroom once he heard the life sentence recommendation.

“We are beyond disappointed with the outcome today,” mother Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was killed during the incident, said. “This should have been the death penalty, 100%. ... I sent my daughter to school and she was shot eight times. ... I cannot understand. I just don’t understand.”

“I could not be more disappointed in what happened today,” Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed that day, said. “I'm stunned. I'm devastated. There are 17 victims that did not receive justice today. This jury failed our families today.”

In a television interview after the case, jury foreman Benjamin Thomas indicated that multiple people voted against the death penalty, and that the jury was given the night to sleep on their decision before it was brought to the judge the next day. “We went through all the evidence and some of the jurors just felt that was the appropriate sentence,” he said. “I didn’t vote that way, so I’m not happy with how it worked out, but everyone has the right to decide for themselves.

“There’s nothing we could do. It’s the way the law is. And that’s how we voted. This has been really hard on my heart … I’d rather not see anything like this ever again.”

Parkland School Shooting Jury Decision
The families of the victims of the Parkland high school massacre were shocked and angered on Thursday at the jury's decision to spare school shooter Nikolas Cruz of the death penalty. Pool/Getty Images.

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