Shooter Pleads Guilty to All 17 Murders in 2018 Attack at Parkland, Fla., High School

Fourteen students and three staff members were killed in the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting by former student Nikolas Cruz, then 19, who had been expelled

School Shooting Florida, Parkland, USA - 15 Feb 2018
Students outside of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting. Photo: Gerald Herbert/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The killer in 2018's mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., plead guilty Wednesday to all 17 murders he committed that Valentine's Day, an action that sparked a national student-led March for Our Lives movement to curb gun violence.

The plea by Nikolas Cruz, 23, was confirmed by multiple outlets. With the plea, prosecutors agreed to drop their pursuit of the death penalty for Cruz, a former student at the school who'd been expelled for disciplinary reasons. Under the plea, Cruz agreed to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, reports WSVN.

Prosecutors had previously rejected that tradeoff proposed by attorneys for Cruz, who was 19 at the time of the shooting.

"We all know he is guilty, and finally, he knows he is guilty and will share that," Manny Oliver, the father of victim Joaquin Oliver, told the TV station ahead of the plea. "That is fine."

RELATED VIDEO: 3 Years After Parkland Shooting, Survivors Describe How They Have Changed & Call for Gun Reform

Fourteen students and three staff members were killed in the Feb. 14, 2018, attack at the school, which then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott described as an act of "absolutely pure evil."

Just five weeks after the massacre, a coalition that began with student survivors of the Parkland shooting staged the March for Our Lives rally in Washington D.C., then launched a cross-country caravan to engage local communities in an effort to change gun laws.

Parkland High School Shooter Nikolas Cruz Returns To Court
Nikolas Cruz in court Feb. 18, 2018. Mike Stocker-Pool/Getty

Among the memorable moments from that rally, student Emma Gonzalez, who became one of Parkland's most prominent voices after the shooting, stood silent for most of her time on stage as a timer counted the 6 minutes and 20 seconds it took the gunman to complete his carnage.

In the aftermath, two women who lost loved ones in the shooting were elected to the Broward County School Board.

One of those women, Debra "Debbi" Hixon, was a longtime educator whose husband, Chris, 49, worked as the school's athletic director and wrestling coach. When the gunfire on campus erupted, the father and Navy veteran who tried to shield students was shot, and died the next day at the hospital. The other woman, former teacher and athletics coach Lori Alhadeff, lost her 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, in the shooting.

A vigil for victims of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Getty

Like other parents, Hixon and Alhadeff turned their losses into activism. Alhadeff is president of the national non-profit organization Make Our Schools Safe, focused on protecting students and teachers at school. Hixon is president of the Chris Hixon Athletic Scholarship, dedicated to the memory of her husband.

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Oliver, an artist, and his wife, Patricia, a project manager, committed themselves to activism by founding in their son's memory to "empower our next generation so they can fight for their values, have their voices heard, and impact change." Specifically, the organization uses "urban art and nonviolent creative confrontation to expose the disastrous effects of the mass shooting pandemic."

Among his projects, Oliver created an online visual archive of left-behind items and unfinished work submitted by friends and relatives of gun violence victims that he calls the Museum of Incomplete. The aim is to honor the deceased — and allow the deceased to aid the push to end gun violence -- by sharing artifacts, images and stories of those who died.

"We know our loved ones better than anyone, so we know what is really that thing that we're missing and they were not able to finish," Oliver told PEOPLE in 2019.

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