By Ray Sanchez, CNN

Gina Montalto’s parents simply clutched hands and cried as it was announced that a Florida jury recommended the Parkland school shooter should not be condemned to death.

Tony Montalto, Gina’s father and president of the advocacy group Stand with Parkland, called it “yet another gut punch for so many of us who devastatingly lost our loved ones on that tragic Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.”

“Seventeen beautiful lives were cut short, by murder, and the monster that killed them gets to live to see another day,” Montalto said in a statement, echoing the sentiments of other stunned family members who bowed or shook their heads in disbelief at the decision.

“While this sentence fails to punish the perpetrator to the fullest extent of the law — it will not stop our mission to effect positive change at a federal, state and local level to prevent school shooting tragedies from shattering other American families.”

Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer is expected to issue the gunman’s formal sentence on November 1; she cannot depart from the jury’s recommendation of life in prison without parole.

The monthslong trial on the fate of the gunman culminated with the jury finding the aggravating factors presented by state prosecutors did not outweigh the mitigating circumstances, or aspects of the shooter’s life and upbringing defense attorneys argued warranted only a life sentence.

“It’s pretty unreal that nobody paid attention to the facts of this case, that nobody can remember who the victim is and what they look like,” Montalto told reporters Thursday. “I see my beautiful daughter’s face around our home, in my dreams. And I miss her very much.”

The parents of 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff, who was among the 17 people killed in the February 2018 Parkland massacre, said they were “disgusted.”

Ilan Alhadeff said his family was “beyond disappointed with the outcome.”

Alhadeff and his wife, Lori, questioned the purpose of the death penalty in Florida’s legal system if not for the case of a mass school shooter.

“I’m disgusted with our legal system,” Alhadeff, visibly angry, said outside court. “I’m disgusted with those jurors.”

Vickie Cartwright, Broward County Public Schools Superintendent, said via Twitter mental health professionals will be available at schools to help students and staff impacted by the decision.

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