Sheriff: Parkland shooting suspect assaulted jail officer

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz attacked a detention officer at the county jail and now faces new charges including use of the officer's electric stun device, authorities said Wednesday.

Broward Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright confirmed in an email Wednesday that Cruz assaulted Sgt. Raymond Beltran around 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Jail records show Cruz now is charged with aggravated assault on an officer, battery on an officer and use of an "electric or chemical weapon against an officer."

The 20-year-old Cruz already faces the death penalty in the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that killed 17 people and wounded 17 others. He's pleaded not guilty in the shooting but his lawyers say he would plead guilty in exchange for a life prison sentence.

According to the assault arrest report, Cruz attacked Beltran after he was told to "not drag his sandals around" while walking in a jail dayroom. Cruz responded, the report says, by showing Beltran his middle finger and then rushing the deputy and striking him with his fist.

The report says Cruz and Beltran then "got into a physical altercation" in which both wound up on the floor and Cruz was able to wrest control of the stun gun, technically called a "conducive electronic weapon." The stun gun discharged but it's not clear from the report if it struck anyone and Beltran was able to regain control.

Beltran was also struck multiple times by Cruz using his fists, according to video surveillance cited by the report.

Finally, the report says Beltran struck Cruz in the face with a fist containing the stun gun and Cruz then "retreated to one of the seats" in the dayroom before he was taken into custody.

The report does not mention the severity of any injuries to either Cruz or Beltran.

An initial hearing on the assault charges is set for Wednesday afternoon. Cruz's court-appointed lawyers had no immediate comment on the alleged attack.

"We don't know any more than you do as of yet," Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said in an email.

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Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Miamicurt


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