Florida school shooting ‘Hero’ files first civil suit against gunman

MIAMI, UNITED STATES: A young survivor of the February 14 school massacre in Florida who was repeatedly shot while protecting fellow students filed the first civil lawsuit Tuesday against the shooter. Anthony Borges, 15, is suing gunman Nikolas Cruz, 19, for the attack at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Seventeen people were killed in Cruz’s rampage, and 17 others wounded.

Borges, praised in the media as a “hero” and nicknamed “Iron Man” by his fellow students, was shot in both legs and the back by Cruz. Despite the injuries, he managed to shut a door, preventing the shooter from entering the room where around 20 students were hiding. In doing so, he was shot twice more. Borges was released from the hospital on April 4 and still recovering after nine surgeries and seven weeks in hospital. He is still not well enough to speak.

The lawsuit names James and Kimberly Snead — the couple that housed Cruz when the shooter’s adoptive mother Lynda died in November 2017 — as well as the estate of Lynda Cruz and three Florida mental health institutions that treated Cruz at different times. The lawsuit, filed in Broward County Circuit Court, charges Cruz with assault and battery, and is seeking damages, medical expenses and compensation for the loss of past and future wages.

The health institutions are being sued for negligence, since they “knew or should have known” that Cruz “suffered from mental illness and was a threat to others,” the lawsuit reads. Borges family attorney Alex Arreaza earlier said that the family will sue the Broward County school board and the county sheriff’s office for failing to protect the students from Cruz, an ex-student who had shown mental instability as well as violent tendencies. In Florida, state institutions are entitled to six months notice before lawsuits are filed.

Borges was rolled in on a wheelchair at a press conference two days after he was released from the hospital. Still weak, he remained silent while attorney Arreaza read a statement. “I don’t know why I survived,” the statement read, “but I will tell you that my family and I will dedicate the rest of our lives to seeing that something like this never happens again.” The Borges family left Venezuela more than 15 years ago over political instability and fears over rampant crime. Anthony Borges was born in the United States.