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Florida suspect’s attorney says her client is ‘sad’ and ‘remorseful’

The attorney who is defending suspected Florida gunman Nikolas Cruz said her 19-year-old client is “sad” and “remorseful” — but she also choked up when speaking about the shooting that left 17 people dead.

Public defender Melisa McNeill described her client as a “child” to reporters Thursday after a judge ordered Cruz held without bond in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. McNeill had her arm around Cruz, who has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, during the hearing.

“He’s sad. He’s mournful. He’s remorseful. He is fully aware of what is going on. He’s just a broken human being,” McNeill said.


A reporter noted that while the lawyer called her client a “child,” the suspect was accused of himself killing several children.

McNeill became choked up as she responded.

“I have a tremendous amount of compassion for every one of those children that are lost. For their families that are grieving today, and for what they have to go through for the rest of their life,” she said. “Sitting across from my client doesn’t mean that we don’t care about the people of this community.

“I had to have the exact same conversation that every parent in Broward County had to have with their children this morning,” she said, her voice breaking. “And then I had to walk and meet with him. I’m fully aware of the impact this has on the people that live here.”

Melisa McNeill had her arm around Nikolas Cruz during his hearing.AFP/Getty Images

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.