Top Stories of the Day – NBC 6 South Florida

It’s Wednesday, October 12 – and NBC 6 has the best stories of the day.

#1 – The jury in the sentencing trial of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz will begin deliberations on Wednesday, nearly six months after the trial began.

Cruz, now 24, pleaded guilty last October to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The jury of seven men and five women will decide whether he is sentenced to death or life without parole, weighing the aggravating factors presented by prosecutors against the mitigating circumstances of the defense. To receive a death penalty recommendation, the jury must unanimously agree that at least one aggravating factor was encountered in at least one of the 17 murders. These aggravating factors include whether the crime was premeditated or if it was particularly cruel or heinous.

#2 – The sentencing process has been pure agony for the families and friends of the 17 victims of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

For example, during closing arguments on Tuesday, prosecutor Mike Satz again described how each victim died, how some of them tried to hide or ran away, how they weren’t just merciless, but they were killed in such a way as to maximize the terror they felt. So many gruesome details, and the families absorb it all, as many have done every day, forced to be in the courtroom in the presence of the confessed killer. Tom and Gena Hoyer are there to represent their son, Luke. They told NBC 6 last Friday that the trial had been excruciating. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6’s Ari Odzer.

#3 – Several schools in South Florida were placed under quarantine on Tuesday after reports of “crushed” calls.

Pembroke Pines Police officials said multiple officers responded to West Broward High School, which was placed on lockdown as a precaution. At Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, armed officers searched the school as relatives awaited news of students locked inside. In Miami-Dade County, there was also a heavy police presence at Miami Central High School, where a code red lockdown was reported. Miami-Dade School Board officials said reports of an active shooter were false and appeared to be a hoax threat called at multiple schools.

#4 – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said temporary repairs have been made to the Sanibel Causeway which was damaged in three places by Hurricane Ian.

DeSantis told reporters Tuesday that the temporary repairs will allow a one-time convoy of power restoration equipment, supplies and crews to access the island. The island, home to around 7,000 people, has only been accessible by sea or air since Ian landed in southwest Florida on September 28 with 150mph winds. Search and rescue efforts on the island began after Ian’s death, and last week barges began deploying to move equipment and supplies to the island to restore power.

#5 – Family and friends welcomed nearly 100 members of Florida Task Force 1 into their homes on Tuesday.

The Miami-Dade search and rescue team arrived at their Doral Training Center after spending two weeks in Southwest Florida helping storm victims after Hurricane Ian devastated the area . “It’s great to see my family, wife and kids. I’ve missed them very much,” said Ryan Townsend, a member of Task Force 1. The 96-member Miami Dade Search and Rescue helped stranded residents on Sanibel and Pine Islands, often by plane or boat to bring them to the mainland.Click here for more in a report by NBC 6’s Chris Hush.

#6 – Over the past few weeks there has been a worrying increase in respiratory illnesses among children, causing many children to be hospitalized in intensive care – and Broward Health says they are also seeing an increase.

In the past 48 hours, officials at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale said they had to open overflow units for pediatric intensive care patients with RSV — and that’s not COVID. Broward Health pediatric officials say children are going to the emergency room and then needing intensive care because of these respiratory illnesses. Some even have to be intubated. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common, contagious virus that causes cold-like symptoms in the airways. It can be dangerous for infants, especially premature babies and elderly people who are immunocompromised or have heart problems or asthma. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6’s Amanda Plasencia.