Who is Zachary Cruz?


The brother of Parkland mass shooter Nikolas Cruz is believed to be starring in a reality show about his life and was previously charged with trespassing at the school where his brother murdered 17 innocent people.

Zachary Cruz, 22, was expected to testify for the defence in Cruz’s sentencing trial, where a jury will decide whether to give him to life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

But, the defence shocked the courtroom by resting its case on 14 September after calling less than half of its witness list – with Zachary still notably absent from the witness stand.

The 22-year-old released a statement saying that he had declined to testify because he did not want to face further alleged harassment from law enforcement.

“Broward prosecutors partnered with a racist Virginia Sheriff and a corrupt prosecutor to attempt to arrest me, search my home, and subject me to a conservatorship,” he said.

On Valentine’s Day 2018, Cruz took an Uber to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, armed with an AR-15 style rifle and gunned down students and staff. Fourteen students and three educators were killed in the massacre.

While the trial is casting more of a spotlight on Cruz and his actions leading up to the mass shooting, Zachary also hit headlines in the aftermath of the attack.

Here’s what we know about Cruz’s younger brother:

Early life
Zachary has the same biological mother as Cruz and was also adopted by Lynda and Roger Cruz.

The boys’ birth mother was Brenda Woodard who, at the time of her pregnancy with Cruz, was homeless, an alcoholic, a drug addict and working as a prostitute.

Woodard had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse and a long rap sheet dating back to at least the 1980s.

When Cruz was born, he was adopted by the Cruz parents.

Around one year later, Zachary was born and was also adopted by the Cruz parents who raised the boys together.

The brothers also have an older sister Danielle Woodard who also shares the same birth mother. Unlike Zachary and Cruz, Danielle did grow up with Woodard, other biological relatives and lived in foster care.

When Cruz was five and Zachary four, Roger died, leaving Lynda to raise the two boys alone.

Lynda, Nikolas, Roger and Zachary Cruz from left to right

Lynda, Nikolas, Roger and Zachary Cruz from left to right

(Law & Crime)
In the decade before the 2018 attack, Lynda appeared to struggle with both of her sons’ behaviour and called police to the family home dozens of times.

In total, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office had 43 contacts with the Cruz family prior to the Parkland massacre, 21 of which involved Cruz alone or both him and his brother, according to official records.

In November 2018 – just three months before the school shooting – Lynda died at the age of 68, leaving the two boys orphaned.

Trespassing at Marjory Stoneman
In the hours after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Zachary was allowed to meet with his brother in the police station, with footage later released to the media.

After that, he was accused of becoming fascinated with the fame his brother was getting.

He visited the site of the massacre at least three times and – after being warned to stay away – was charged with trespassing, authoritied said.

Zachary, who turned 18 one week after the mass shooting, told police he had gone to the school to “reflect on the school shooting and soak it all in”, according to an arrest report.

Prosecutors said that Zachary had been “heard observing how popular [Nikolas’] name is now” and questioned whether the fame would help to attract female attention.

He was given six months probation for trespassing at the shooting site.

Zachary Cruz, brother of Nikolas Cruz, appears in court in Fort Lauderdale in March 2018

Zachary Cruz, brother of Nikolas Cruz, appears in court in Fort Lauderdale in March 2018

Richard Moore
After his own brief stint in jail, Zachary was taken under the wing of Richard Moore.

Mr Moore cofounded bond servicing company Nexus with his husband Mike Donovan and, when Zachary was arrested on 2018, the pair reached out to help the then-18-year-old.

Following his release, he moved from Florida to Virginia to live with the couple and their son.

They had never met prior to the massacre.

Mr Moore has attended some of the trial and was seen at the courthouse when the defence began presenting its case.

He previously said that he doesn’t approve of what Cruz did but believes “nobody should face this alone”.

Mr Moore’s name has cropped up during the trial, with prosecutors saying that he had sent thousands of dollars of commissary to Cruz in prison “this year alone” and speaks regularly to the mass shooter through jailhouse phone calls.

On 5 October, Mr Moore and Mr Donovan were both arrested on felony charges of exploiting Zachary. They were charged with exploiting a mentally incapacitated person and obtaining money by false pretenses and released on $50,000 bond.

Richard Moore at the Broward County Courthouse on 18 August 2022

Richard Moore at the Broward County Courthouse on 18 August 2022

Reality TV show
Prosecutors also mentioned a “reality show” featuring Zachary.

Prosecutor Jeff Marcus asked Danielle Woodard if she was aware of the show, saying that one of the episodes is called “Being Zachary Cruz”.

“Do you think it would be appropriate to capitalize on the murders of 14 children and three staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by filming, or creating a reality show based on being the brother of a mass murderer?” he asked.

The defence objected and Judge Elizabeth Scherersustained the objection but denied the defence’s request to strike the question from the record.

A Facebook account titled “Being Zach Cruz” and detailed as a TV show features photos of the 22-year-old.

The Facebook page for Being Zach Cruz

The Facebook page for Being Zach Cruz

The bio reads: “Follow Zach Cruz, the brother of the alleged Parkland shooter, as he adjusts to life after being tortured by police in FL and outside the direct shadow of his brothers infamous acts.”

The page is followed by 118 social media users.

Taking the stand
Both Zachary and Mr Moore had both been expected to be called to testify for the defence, with Zachary expected to speak to their troubled upbringing.

But, even before the defence rested, the two legal teams battled over their potential testimony.

Attorneys for the two men filed a motion asking that prosecutors are banned from asking them certain questions, saying that some of them are “not appropriate”.

The judge denied the motion and ruled that both witnesses would have to answer all questions the state asked them.

The defence declined to call them to the stand.

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