Seventeen individuals have been savagely murdered Wednesday when a pupil expelled from a Florida highschool returned to the campus, pulled a hearth alarm and gunned down his former classmates as they frantically crammed the hallways, witnesses and officers mentioned.
Chaos, bullets and blood crammed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Excessive Faculty in Parkland shortly earlier than three p.m. when gunfire from an AR-15 assault rifle rang out simply earlier than the closing bell signaling the top of the college day.
Sixteen individuals have been additionally wounded.
Cops nabbed the suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, and described him as a former pupil who had been thrown out of the college for disciplinary causes.
Others described Cruz as a gun nut with a sick fascination for high-powered weapons. Aerial footage confirmed a handcuffed suspect being led to a police automotive, however not earlier than the shooter had initially escaped by mixing in with different college students.
Terrified teenagers have been sprinting for his or her lives, some with their backpacks nonetheless on, in scenes eerily harking back to the Columbine Excessive Faculty bloodbath in Colorado in 1999, during which 12 college students and a trainer have been killed.
The Parkland dying toll has surpassed the Columbine depend in a sickening period when mass shootings have change into sadly commonplace.
“It’s a horrific, horrific day,” mentioned Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. “It’s simply catastrophic. There actually are not any phrases.”
He added that the shooter was out and in of the college “at various occasions.”
Israel mentioned 12 individuals have been discovered lifeless inside the college, and two extra died outdoors. One other sufferer was killed down the road, and two succumbed to their wounds at a neighborhood hospital.
Docs mentioned others wounded within the taking pictures, some significantly, have been nonetheless present process surgical procedure.
One of many misplaced was recognized as pupil Jaime Guttenberg, whose brother Jesse, escaped along with his life.
College students, some holding Valentine’s Day balloons, huddled with their nervous mother and father at a close-by resort the place they have been reunited.
“It’s a day you pray day-after-day you don’t need to see,” mentioned Broward County Faculty Superintendent Robert Runcie.
Florida Sen. Invoice Nelson, who was briefed by the FBI, mentioned the shooter pulled the alarm “so the youngsters would come pouring out of the school rooms into the corridor.”
“And there the carnage started,” Nelson added.
Authorities mentioned Cruz was additionally carrying a fuel masks, however Nelson mentioned he didn’t know if the gunman had used smoke grenades.
Tv footage confirmed college students leaving single file with their palms above their heads previous cops in full physique armor.
Viral video confirmed college students hiding beneath desks, and included screams from scared college students that have been nearly as loud because the gunshots.
Trainer Melissa Falkowski mentioned she hid 19 of her college students in a closet as photographs have been fired.
A pupil named Heather mentioned she was inside when the calm college was a massacre.
“The fireplace alarm went off after which I heard a loud noise that didn’t sound like a gunshot once I heard it,” Heather, 15, informed the Each day Information.
But it surely took solely seconds for Heather to understand the horror of what was occurring.
“Individuals have been trampling one another within the halls operating and I simply ran right into a random class, and somebody banged on our door actually loud, after which there was extra banging, and there was only a bunch of terrifying yelling noises,” she mentioned.
After what felt like an eternity handed and police got here and evacuated Heather and her classmates, the terror-stricken pupil walked right into a grisly scene.
“There was blood and our bodies and mud everywhere in the halls whereas we walked out.” Heather mentioned. “It was so terrifying.”
Heather mentioned she had little question the shooter set the scholars as much as die.
“I undoubtedly suppose he set it off,” Heather mentioned of the fireplace alarm. “There’s no different purpose it might have gone off,”
Earlier within the day, the fireplace alarm blared for a routine drill.
When it went off once more, pupil Masiel Baluja mentioned there was a number of confusion.
“We have been suspicious as a result of we already had a hearth alarm drill, so we weren’t positive if this was actual or not,” Masiel informed CNN. “So, apparently, the shooter pulled the alarm so he may have children within the hallway to shoot. I used to be on the highest ground. Proper beneath me on the primary ground I heard taking pictures and noticed two guys operating. I wasn’t positive what it was, then I heard it once more. That’s when me and a bunch of individuals ran downstairs, and I may inform he was on my left facet as a result of that’s the place I heard the gunshots from, and it was very loud.
“Then I went to make a proper and I simply ran, and I had my backpack on my again, simply in case I bought shot, it might undergo my books.”
She made it out of the college safely.
Authorities mentioned Cruz had been expelled for disciplinary causes. They didn’t instantly give a motive for the taking pictures.
An ex-classmate, who didn’t give his identify, informed WSVN-TV that Cruz would present him pictures of his weapons. He mentioned the twisted teen informed him he loved the feeling of pulling triggers.
“He shot weapons as a result of he mentioned it was exhilarating,” he mentioned.
Gunman opens fireplace at Florida highschool
“He had numerous magazines, a number of magazines, and at this level we consider he had one AR-15 rifle,” Israel mentioned.
Cruz legally purchased the rifle used within the crime, legal professional Jim Lewis informed the South Florida Solar Sentinel. Cruz already owned the gun when he moved in along with his pal’s household in northwest Broward round Thanksgiving, Lewis mentioned.
“It was his gun,” Lewis mentioned. “The household made him maintain it in a locked gun cupboard in the home however he had a key.”
The varsity was to be closed for the remainder of the week.
Grief counselors can be accessible off-site for college students and employees, and at close by center college.
The state can pay the funeral prices of all these killed, mentioned state Lawyer Normal Pam Bondi.
Among the many heroes of the taking pictures was soccer coach Aaron Feis, who was wounded whereas shielding college students from gunfire, based on reviews.
He additionally works as a safety guard on the college.
President Trump was briefed on the taking pictures, the White Home mentioned.
“My prayers and condolences to the households of the victims of the horrible Florida taking pictures,” Trump tweeted. “No baby, trainer or anybody else ought to ever really feel unsafe in an American college.”
Trump additionally spoke to Florida Gov. Rick Scott and supplied federal help if wanted, based on the White Home.
Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, postponed an anticipated announcement about his U.S. Senate plans in Utah, out of respect for the victims and their households.
The taking pictures enraged Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, a staunch gun management advocate.
“Don’t inform me tomorrow isn’t the suitable time to debate gun violence,” Murphy tweeted. “In case you’re a political chief doing nothing about this slaughter, you’re an confederate.”
Final 12 months, Parkland was named the most secure metropolis in Florida.
Not less than 18 college shootings have occurred nationwide this 12 months, based on the gun management advocacy group Everytown for Gun Security, and there have been at the very least 300 since Sandy Hook in 2012.
“How can this occur on this nation?” Scott mentioned. “How can this occur on this state? You come to the conclusion that that is completely pure evil.”