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Suspected school shooter will plead guilty if death penalty is off the table: public defender

PARKLAND, Fla. -- The gunman accused of killing 17 people inside a Florida high school will plead guilty if prosecutors take the death penalty off the table, Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein confirmed Saturday. Finkelstein is representing Nikolas Cruz, who is being held without bail on 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Authorities have not described any specific motive, except to say that Cruz had been kicked out of the high school, which has about 3,000 students and serves an affluent suburb where the median home price is nearly $600,000. Students who knew him described a volatile teenager whose strange behavior had caused others to end friendships.

In the days following the attack, students who were caught in the crossfire at the school took politicians to task in the media and online.

"Politicians and more importantly the American public must take action if we're going to prevent the next shooting," said survivor David Hogg, who wrote an essay for "CBS This Morning." "To elected officials I say this: Don't lie to us. Don't make any more false promises, because when you do, children die."

One student asked President Trump to meet with her. Some teens have been critical of Mr. Trump for failing to mention guns in his comments about the attack.

On Friday evening, Mr. Trump visited a Florida hospital where he greeted medical staff and thanked the doctors, nurses and first responders who helped the shooting victims. He told reporters he also met with some of the victims who are still hospitalized. He later met with members of the Broward County Sheriff's office and local law enforcement, including Coconut Creek Police Officer Mike Leonard, who said he was the one who apprehended Cruz.