Zachary Cruz has been given permission to move far away from the Florida town still mourning those killed when his brother opened fire in the classrooms and halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The younger Cruz brother was placed on probation after pleading guilty to trespassing on the same Parkland school where 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz gunned down 17 students and teachers in a bloody Valentine’s day rampage.
Broward County Judge Melina Brown on Friday agreed to transfer Cruz’s probation to Virginia, where he’ll be under the supervision of Nexus Services — a company dedicated to helping people move on after incarceration, according to the Miami Herald.
Nexus has already set him up with a $13-hour job as a maintenance man and a free apartment, though he will be monitored by the company’s executive on a daily basis.
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The 18-year-old will also remain under court supervision, wear an electronic ankle monitor and is required to check in with the Broward County Sheriff’s probation department.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Cruz testified. “I have an opportunity I don’t have here.”
His brother, Nikolas Cruz, is currently facing the death penalty for the mass shooting at his former high school. Survivors of the deadly attack have turned their tragedy into a fierce advocacy campaign against gun violence, capturing the attention of the internet, media and people around the world.
Zachary Cruz’s lawyers pressed the judge to consider giving him the chance to start over away from the constant, public scrutiny, according to the Herald.
“I’m not going to stop you. I’m going to send you to Virginia,” she agreed. “I’m going to require you to grow up a little bit and understand there is no law violation that is a small violation.”
Cruz, like his jailed brother, endured a challenging childhood and has a history of mental illness.
After their adoptive mother died in the fall, Zachary lived with a family friend in Palm Beach County until he was kicked out in wake of the mass shooting. on Feb. 14.
He used to run away from home on a recurring basis and was convicted three times in 2016 for grand theft, petty theft and criminal mischief.
Cruz is also suing the Broward Sheriff’s Office, State Attorney’s office and the court system for his treatment following his March trespassing arrest.
He was held on $500,000 bond for the second-degree misdemeanor, which his lawyers deemed so excessive, it violated his civil rights.