At least 17 people were killed as a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., opened fire on campus today.
Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons, fled the scene but was apprehended and arrested a short time later. Misspellings of his first name were circulating earlier among media and social media.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters that the shooting began outside of the school. Twelve of the victims were found in buildings, two were killed outside on school grounds, and one person was shot to death outside of school property on Pine Island Road. Two more shooting victims died at a hospital.
Israel noted that victims among the 17 wounded taken to hospitals are still undergoing surgery. Three people were in critical condition.
Though he didn’t have a breakdown of how many victims were students and how many were teachers, the sheriff said the deceased were a mixture of young people and adults.
Israel said investigators have begun dissecting Cruz’s social media, and “some of the things that have come to light are very, very disturbing.” He said the shooter had multiple magazines and used at least one AR-15.
Some witness accounts said the shooter may have pulled a fire alarm to get people out of rooms; the sheriff wouldn’t comment on the report. But Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), after receiving a federal briefing, told CNN that Cruz had a gas mask and smoke grenades, and did pull the fire alarm.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” math teacher Jim Gard, who said Cruz had been in his class last year, told the Miami Herald. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”
Students who spoke with local media after the shooting expressed little surprise that Cruz was arrested as the suspect. One told WFOR-TV that other students “knew it was going to be him.” Student Matthew Walker told ABC News that “everything he posts [on social media] is about weapons”; he said Cruz’s selection of victims appeared to be random.
Just finished update from fed authorities on #FloridaSchoolShooting. It is clear attack was designed & executed to maximize loss of life
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 15, 2018
“My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school,” tweeted President Trump. “Just spoke to Governor Rick Scott. We are working closely with law enforcement on the terrible Florida school shooting.”
“This is an unspeakable tragedy. It is nothing short of true evil to attack innocent children,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement. “While we now wait to learn more, we are so grateful to law enforcement and all those who brought this horror to an end. Let us all keep the victims in our hearts. A long night lies ahead for many families. Right now, the whole country is standing with the Parkland community.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) asked, “How long before our nation comes together to address this crisis responsibly? For how much longer must students, teachers, movie-goers, travelers, workers, public servants, concert-attendees, worshippers, and Americans of every kind have to live in fear of suddenly being in the wrong place at the wrong time?”
“There should never be a wrong place, especially when that place is a school,” Hoyer added. “And there is never a wrong time for us to do what is right and tackle this challenge head-on.”
This story was updated at 9 p.m. EST