Florida wants to take guns away from Parkland shooter’s brother using its new “red flag” law

The law gives authorities more leeway to confiscate guns from those deemed mentally unfit.

Florida is trying to use a law passed in the wake of the Parkland massacre to take away any guns the shooter's grieving brother might have.

Zachary Cruz, younger brother of Parkland gunman Nikolas Cruz, was arrested Monday on charges of trespassing at the high school where his brother killed 17 people on Feb. 14. On Tuesday, Florida prosecutors filed for a “red flag” risk protection order that would allow the state to take away any guns Zachary might have and prevent him from buying any on the basis that he would pose a significant risk to himself or the public by having a firearm.

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Zachary, 18, returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Monday to “reflect on the shooting and to soak it in,” according to the arrest report. He “surpassed all locked doors and gates and proceeded to ride his skateboard through school grounds.”

For misdemeanor trespassing, bond is usually set at $25, according to Zachary’s attorney. But he’s being held for $500,000. The judge also ordered a psychological evaluation and authorized authorities to search Zachary’s house for guns. Zachary also has to wear an ankle monitor, keep away from Stoneman Douglas students and staff, and make no contact with his older brother, who’s being held without bail at Broward County Jail.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the “red flag” provision into law on March 9, which raised the minimum age to buy a gun in the state from 18 to 21, banned the sale of bump stocks, and gives authorities more leeway to confiscate guns from those deemed mentally unfit to have them. Scott also announced bulked-up security at Marjory Stoneman Douglas on Wednesday.

After the shooting, Zachary told the Broward County police that he was experiencing suicidal thoughts and felt “somewhat responsible” for his brother’s actions. But the officer noted he had no “homicidal ideations.”

Zachary said he felt he could have prevented the shooting and regretted ever having bullied his brother; he wished he had been “nicer” to him. A memo from a psychiatric facility confirmed Zachary’s treatment of his brother and noted that Nikolas may have kept scissors and knives under his bed to protect himself from his brother.

Later, Zachary told police he didn’t understand why Nikolas had done what he did. “It’s not a realistic option to kill people,” he said, according to the police report.

Cover image: Zachary Cruz, right, the brother of the Florida school shooting suspect, is displayed in a monitor via closed circuit television from the main jail, as he waits to make his first appearance on charges of trespassing on the grounds of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Tuesday, March 20, 2018, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)