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Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people

11:10, Friday, 16 February, 2018
Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people

A cowering Nikolas Cruz was comforted by his public defender as he was ordered held without bail during his first court appearance on Thursday, in connection to the deadly shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school on Wednesday that left 17 dead and 14 injured.

The 19-year-old wore an orange jump suit and shackles on his wrists and ankles as he was officially charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

He kept his eyes down and didn't speak in court today, other than to confirm his name with a polite 'yes ma'am' to the judge.

Standing next to him was his public defender, Melisa McNeil, who comforted him by putting a hand around his shoulder.

After the hearing, Cruz's defense team revealed that he was on suicide watch and that he understood the magnitude of his actions.

McNeill told reporters gathered outside the courtroom that her client was sad and remorseful.

'He's sad. He's mournful. He's remorseful. He is fully aware of what is going on, and he's just a broken human being,' she said.

She became emotional while speaking to reporters, saying she's fully aware of the impact the shooting has had on the community, as a parent herself.

Another member of the defense team, Gordon Weeks, was brought to tears as he addressed reporters, telling them that Cruz 'recognizes' what he has done and is 'deeply sad'.

'He is dealing with the shock of all this that's going on,' Weeks said.

McNeill and Weeks said that Cruz suffers from autism, depression and has dealt with significant psychological problems - all without the sort of support system that most people have.

'When your brain is not fully developed, you don't know how to deal with these things,' McNeil said. 'That's the child I'm sitting across from.'

Weeks added: 'The child is deeply troubled and he has endured significant trauma that stems from the loss of his mother.'

Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people
Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people
Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people
Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people
Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people
Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people
Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people
Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people
Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people
Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people
Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people
Public defender puts arm around shackled and cowering Florida gunman at his first court appearance: 'White supremacist' is silent as he is ordered to be held without bond for killing 17 people
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