Cops: Parkland Shooter's Brother Is Being Exploited

Zachary Cruz's caretaker Mike Donovan, accused with husband, blames 'corrupt cops'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2022 9:25 AM CDT
Cops: Parkland Shooter's Brother Is Being Exploited
Richard Moore is shown in the court gallery during the penalty phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Aug. 18, 2022.   (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)

Two men with whom the brother of Parkland, Fla., school shooter Nikolas Cruz has been living with in Virginia are now accused of exploiting him. Mike Donovan and Richard Moore, both 45, were arrested Wednesday on charges of exploiting a mentally incapacitated person and obtaining money by false pretenses, then released on $50,000 bond each. The married couple arrived in Florida's Broward County in 2018 after 22-year-old Zachary Cruz was arrested for trespassing on the grounds of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the shooting occurred. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, "they offered to care for" the young man, whose adopted mother died the previous year, and Zachary has been living with them "ever since."

Court records show Zachary and Nikolas were to inherit $428,000 each from their mother's estate. In an interview with the Sun Sentinel, Donovan said Zachary spent his inheritance and now lives on a weekly stipend. He denied exploiting Zachary over the course of a year, up to April 2020, as the indictment claims. "First of all, I didn't exploit Zach, and secondly, Zach isn't mentally incapacitated," he said. Though he said Zachary was out skateboarding and couldn't comment, he claimed the indictment was the result of "corrupt cops" trying to "break" the young man, who Donovan said was handcuffed at gunpoint, then left sitting outside for four hours as officers executed a search warrant. "His brother is a madman, but Jesus Christ, he's his own person. He doesn't deserve this."

Last month, Zachary Cruz declined to testify on his brother's behalf, citing harassment by 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 wrote in a statement, per WPLG. "They attacked my new family for helping me." In court, prosecutors in Nikolas Cruz's case claimed Donovan and Moore were producing a reality show based on Zachary's life, per Yahoo. Others arrested Wednesday include Timothy Shipe, vice president of a bond servicing company run by the partners, also accused of exploiting Zachary; Donovan's father, Timothy Donovan, accused of obstruction; and Santos Vicente Putul-Ax, also charged with obstruction. (Read more exploitation stories.)

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