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Parkland shooter's brother Zachary Cruz seeking new life in Virginia


© Susan Stocker/Sun Sentinel/TNS   Zachary Cruz, 18, brother of the teenager who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas last…

By Brittany Wallman and Megan O'Matz, Sun Sentinel

Crushed by negative attention, the brother of Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz is seeking court permission to move to Virginia to start a new life.

Zachary Cruz, 18, needs court permission to leave South Florida, where he has lived his entire life, because he's on probation for trespassing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, after his brother went on a maniacal shooting spree, killing 14 students and three staff members.

Like his older brother before him, Zachary Cruz was kicked out of the home of Rocxanne Deschamps, who became a surrogate mother to the Cruz brothers after their mother died in November.

Now homeless, Cruz is staying in a hotel room, his attorney said. He has no job, no high school diploma and no driver's license. Even some of his supporters on social networks have grown weary of him, frustrated that he violated probation and was arrested.

Deschamps said on Facebook that he's been verbally abusive, and she couldn't take it anymore. He's not welcome back. Her ex-husband, Paul Gold, said on Facebook that their young son was afraid of Zachary Cruz, and he insisted Deschamps force him out.

In Virginia, Zachary Cruz could "find happiness and direction in life," criminal defense attorney Mark Lowry argued. He's been offered a home, a job and counseling.

"Mr. Cruz ... has an incredible opportunity to restart his young life in a fresh location where the stigma of his brother's alleged actions will not isolate him from the world," Lowry argued in a motion filed Tuesday with Broward County Court Judge Melinda Brown.

The national civil rights group Nexus Derechos Humanos Inc. has been helping Zachary Cruz. His former attorney said he was being mistreated by the court system based on "hysteria" surrounding the Feb. 14 mass shooting his brother confessed to.

Nexus is described in the motion as "a charitable bonding entity that specializes in re-entry support and supervision for those in need of help rebuilding productive lives post-incarceration or post-treatment."

A Nexus director, Terry Ann Johnson, has spoken to Zachary Cruz and agreed to be his "caretaker," the pleading says. He has been offered a condo in Staunton, Va., weekly counseling at Family Life Resource Center and a full-time, $13-an-hour job as a maintenance mechanic with Homes by Nexus. He would "attend" an online academy to get his high school diploma and submit to weekly telephone appointments and urinalysis as elements of his six-month probation.

He would continue to report to Broward Sheriff's Office's Department of Probation.

"Lastly, Mr. Cruz would still agree not to have any contact with the families and victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida," Lowry offered in his motion.

Though the Cruz brothers had a troubled relationship growing up, Cruz has attended his brother's court hearings and visited him at the Main Jail, records show. The two share the same biological mother and were both adopted by the late Roger and Lynda Cruz of Parkland. Both boys were diagnosed with mental disabilities and had behavioral problems.

"I love my brother, not the things he did," Zachary Cruz posted recently on the Instagram social networking app.

Zachary Cruz is no longer welcome at the Lake Worth mobile home where Deschamps, a former Parkland neighbor, had taken him in. Deschamps also withdrew her court effort to attain control of the Cruz brothers' inheritance, court records show.

It was Deschamps who turned in Zachary Cruz a week ago, and he was subsequently picked up by police on a probation violation.

He'd been caught, while wearing court-ordered ankle monitor, driving his dead mother's car, without insurance and without a driver's license.

"He's the brother of the one that did all the shooting," a fed-up Deschamps told police, April 27, calling a Broward County non-emergency line.

"He's breaking his probation, obviously. It's something you don't do," she said in a recording of the call, obtained by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Weeks earlier, on March 19, at about 4:30 in the afternoon, Broward deputies had arrested Zachary Cruz for trespassing. He was caught riding his skateboard through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

Though Zachary Cruz had been a student there, he was no longer welcome and he'd been warned to stay away. He told a deputy he went there because he wanted to "soak it all in."

The next day Deschamps, wearing all white, appeared in New York in a nationally televised press conference, tissue in hand, wiping away tears. She said she'd notified police before the shooting of Nikolas Cruz's instability and obsession with guns. Next to her was famed feminist attorney Gloria Allred, who called Deschamps a hero.

Deschamps recalled how their mother, Lynda Cruz, came down with pneumonia this past November and drove herself to a hospital. The next day she called Deschamps and asked her to take in her sons because she didn't have long to live.

"I immediately rushed to the hospital and spoke to Lynda and told her I would keep my word and take care of her sons," Deschamps said on TV.

The boys said goodbye to their mother. "We were all crying."

A few months later, Nikolas was jailed for a mass murder. And Zachary, a skateboarder who bucked authority, was thrust into the spotlight.

When he was arrested for trespassing, authorities were so afraid of what Zachary Cruz may be capable of doing, they imposed a $500,000 bond - an unheard of sum for trespassing.

After spending 10 days in custody, Zachary pled no contest and was sentenced to six months' probation.

Almost a month later, Deschamps can be heard on the police recording, untangling herself from the whole mess. It was the second time Zachary had taken the car and left since his plea agreement with the court and Deschamps had had enough.

"I'm not his guardian. Nobody's his guardian. He's 18," she said.

Deschamps explained that Zachary did not have a driver's license.

"I'm concerned for everybody else on the road," Deschamps said.

A mother, Deschamps confided to the operator about the challenge of trying to harness an immature, 18-year-old male, who wasn't her own - even one under court order with an ankle bracelet. Sometimes he responded to her texts, sometimes he didn't. The night before, he'd been out until 2 a.m.

"Obviously I have no control on him now. He does whatever he wants to do," she said.


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U.S. - U.S. Daily News: Parkland shooter's brother Zachary Cruz seeking new life in Virginia
Parkland shooter's brother Zachary Cruz seeking new life in Virginia
U.S. - U.S. Daily News
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