What to Know
- Nikolas Cruz is the accused gunman of the Parkland school shooting tragedy.
- He has been receiving "piles" of correspondence, according to his defense team.
- Cruz faces 17 counts of premeditated murder charges and 17 counts of attempted murder charges.
The Broward County jail is receiving love letters and fan mail addressed to Nikolas Cruz, the accused gunman in the deadly Parkland school shooting, according to the public defender's office.
Cruz's defense team has accumulated copies of some of the correspondence, including greeting cards, letters and photographs, that has been sent.
Cruz's commissary account has also received hundreds of dollars in contributions, which can be used by inmates to buy food, drinks, hygiene products and other items. The South Florida Sun Sentinel first reported the details.
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Teenage girls, women and older men are sending Cruz correspondence. Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein confirmed to NBC 6 that Cruz has received the letters.
"I reserve the right to care about you, Nikolas!" a woman from Texas wrote in a greeting card six days after the shooting. The card has an illustration of a rabbit holding binoculars as it looks out to the ocean with the caption; "Out of sight, but never out of mind."
In another letter, overcome with hearts and happy faces drawn by hand, a Texas teenager told Cruz that when she saw his face on television, "something attracted me to you."
“Your eyes are beautiful and the freckles on your face make you so handsome," the letter reads, with the writer describing herself as a skinny, busty, white high school senior. A Chicago woman also sent Cruz nine suggestive photos.
A man from New York sent Cruz a card with a cat in the front that included photos of himself behind the wheel of his 1992 Nissan convertible, while an 18-year-old also from New York told Cruz to "hang in there and keep your head up."
“No one else is dealing w/your demons, meaning maybe defeating them could be the beginning of your meaning, friend. I know you could use a good friend right now," reads the letter, which features hearts colored in pink ink.
People are also joining Facebook and other online communities to discuss how to help the accused gunman. Hashtags are being spread by sympathizers showing support for Cruz.
Finkelstein's office is representing Cruz. Finkelstein told NBC 6 he has never seen a defendant receive so many letters in his 40 years as a public defender.
Cruz has not yet seen the correspondence because he is on suicide watch, Finkelstein told the Sun Sentinel. Other than legal mail, Broward County jail workers open inmates' mail, per Broward County Sheriff's Office procedure.
“We read a few religious ones to him that extended wishes for his soul and to come to God,” Finkelstein told the newspaper, "but we have not and will not read him the fan letters or share the photos of scantily-clad teenage girls.”
Finkelstein said he worries that boys and girls across the country are idolizing Cruz and "looking up to his fame and notoriety.”
"The letters shake me up because they are written by regular, everyday teenage girls from across the nation,” Finkelstein said. “That scares me. It's perverted.”