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Florida shooting

In this frame grab from video provided by WPLG-TV, students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., evacuate the school following a shooting there on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (WPLG-TV via AP)

PARKLAND, Fla. — A former student opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at a Florida high school Wednesday, killing at least 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets in the nation's deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

The shooter, who was equipped with a gas mask and smoke grenades, set off a fire alarm to draw students out of classrooms shortly before the day ended at one of the state's largest schools, officials said.

Authorities offered no immediate details on the 19-year-old suspect or any possible motive, except to say that he had been kicked out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which has about 3,000 students.

Students who knew the shooter, identified as Nikolas Cruz, described a volatile teenager whose strange behavior had caused others to end friendships with him, particularly after the fight that led to his expulsion.

Frantic parents rushed to the school to find SWAT team members and ambulances surrounding the huge campus. Live television footage showed emergency workers who appeared to be treating the wounded on sidewalks.

"It is a horrific situation," said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, about an hour's drive north of Miami. "It is a horrible day for us."

The suspect was taken into custody without a fight about an hour later in a residential neighborhood about a mile away. He had multiple magazines of ammunition, authorities said.

"It's catastrophic. There really are no words," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters.

The attacker used the fire alarm "so the kids would come pouring out of the classrooms into the hall," Sen. Bill Nelson told CNN.

"And there the carnage began," said Nelson, who said he was briefed by the FBI.

The Florida Democrat said he did not know if the gunman used the smoke grenades, but he assumed that's why he had a gas mask on.

Most of the fatalities were inside the building, though some victims were found fatally shot outside, the sheriff said.

Victoria Olvera, a junior at the school, said Cruz was expelled last school year because he got into a fight with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. She said he had been abusive to his girlfriend.

"I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him," she said.

Dakota Mentcher, another junior, said he used to be friends with Cruz. But he cut off the friendship as Cruz's behavior "started progressively getting a little more weird." Cruz posted on Instagram about killing animals and threatened one of Mentcher's friends, he said.

He remembered that Cruz had a pellet gun and did target practice in his backyard.

Student Daniel Huerfano said he recognized Cruz from an Instagram photo in which Cruz had posed with a gun in front of his face.

Cruz "was that weird kid that you see ... like a loner," he said.

Freshman Max Charles was in class when he heard five gunshots.

"We were in the corner, away from the windows," he said. "The teacher locked the door and turned off the light. I thought maybe I could die or something."

As he was leaving the building, he saw four dead students and one dead teacher. He said he was relieved when he finally found his mother.

"I was happy that I was alive," Max said. "She was crying when she saw me."

Not long after the attack, Michael Nembhard was sitting in his garage on a cul-de-sac when he saw a young man in a burgundy shirt walking down the street. In an instant, a police cruiser pulled up, and officers jumped out with guns drawn.

"All I heard was 'Get on the ground! Get on the ground!'" Nembhard said. He said he could not see the suspect's face, but the man did as he was told.

The day started normally at the school, which had a morning fire drill. Students were in class around 2:30 p.m. when another alarm sounded.

Noah Parness, a 17-year-old junior, said he and the other students calmly went outside to their fire-drill areas when he suddenly heard popping sounds.

"We saw a bunch of teachers running down the stairway, and then everybody shifted and broke into a sprint," Parness said. "I hopped a fence."

Beth Feingold said her daughter, Brittani, sent a text that said, "We're on code red. I'm fine," but sent another text shortly afterward saying, "Mom, I'm so scared." She was later able to escape.

Students heard loud bangs as the shooter fired. Many of them hid under desks or in closets and barricaded doors.

Television footage showed students leaving in a single-file line with their hands over their heads as officers urged them to evacuate quickly.

The scene was reminiscent of the Newtown attack, which shocked even a country numbed by the regularity of school shootings. The Dec. 14, 2012, assault at Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 26 people — 20 first-graders and six staff members.

The 20-year-old gunman, who also fatally shot his mother in her bed, then killed himself.

When Caesar Figueroa got to the Florida school to check on his 16-year-old daughter, he saw helicopters and police officers wielding guns.

"It was crazy and my daughter wasn't answering her phone." She finally texted him that she was inside a closet with friends.

Len Murray's 17-year-old son, a junior at the school, sent his parents a chilling text: "Mom and Dad, there have been shots fired on campus at school. There are police sirens outside. I'm in the auditorium and the doors are locked."

A few minutes later, he texted again, "I'm fine."

Murray said he raced to the school only to be stopped by authorities under a highway overpass within view of the school buildings. He said he told his son to save his battery and stop texting. The boy's mother told him to turn off his ringer.

Murray said he's had just one thought running through his mind since his son's text: "All I keep thinking about is when I dropped him off this morning. I usually say, 'I love you,' and I didn't this morning. He's 17, he's at that age, and I didn't say it this morning, and I'm just kicking myself right now over and over and over."

The school was to be closed for the rest of the week.

Associated Press writers Freida Frisaro, Jennifer N. Kay in Miami and Mike Balsamo in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


(32) comments


This murderer's Instagram account and some other social media has photos of himself with guns, wearing a red tRump MAGA(t) hat., His former classmates have quoted his racist rants against Muslims, stating his wishes to murder them. His weapon of choice, an AR15s, legally purchased, of course, as most mass murderers in this country are now. So, we have an orphaned 19yr. old with mental health issues ( his recently deceased mother did attempt to get him mental health care), legally buying military grade assault rifles, stockpiles of ammunition, hating on Muslims and others, murdering former classmates and faculty. That right there folks is a homegrown tRump American terrorist prodigy. Let the hatemongering continue from tRumpster's, you must all be so proud as your hate is breeding hate and fear. Be sure to send a thank you card to the NRA.

Buggs Raplin

Considering that so many mass shootings occur in schools, it's just common sense that security in schools should be increased. I'm talking about armed guards. It's not foolproof. But if schools had armed guards, the number of mass shootings would drop considerably, and when one did occur, the death toll would be less if an armed guard was present. I don't know if the school here had an armed guard. I'm guessing they didn't, but even if there was one present, armed guards in our schools is still the best solution to the problem of mass shootings in our schools.

Tim Russell

Quit guessing and do some actual research.


So far, we've had 18 mass shootings in 2018. 2018 is 6 weeks old. That adds up to 3 shootings a week, almost one every other day. It's time to at least try things that would help fix that. How much incentive do you need? As the sheriff said, if you see or hear something from someone that should sound an alarm, you need to report that to somebody. Someone acting or talking like they might be a threat? They probably are. Report them to police, school officials, parents, whoever.


How's this: If your minor aged son or daughter performs a mass shooting, you, the parents, will be charged with criminal neglect and, if found guilty, sentenced to prison. Society, the gun lobby and all concerned people need to rise and take a stand.

El Duderino

There is no law that can eradicate evil and no society has ever succeeded in trying.


So the punk just walked right into the building with all that gear. Just imagine if schools actually implemented a plan to prevent that from happening.....

Tim Russell

He didn't walk in a door. He came through a window.
Who would have ever thought that if they put armed guards at the doors that somebody would think about going through a window?

Rick Czeczok

As long as I broke all the PC rules already hears one more. Please say a prayer to God tonight, for the souls of these poor departed people. Amen.


Time for national death penalty!!! Make it universal in all states. We have enough rope and bullets in the world to make this work!!


Psycho-killers and sociopaths don't care about the consequences of their actions. They don't care about what kind of sentence they may get. Execution is not a deterrent.

Tim Russell

Just checked in with Alex Jones and it turns out this whole thing was acted out. No one actually died. MSM reporting can't be trusted.

Rick Czeczok

What's wrong with you????


Tim was imitating people like Alex Jones who said the Newtown murders never happened, they were just staged by the anti-gun crowd to encourage gun control.


Timmy, 3rd rate trolls like you are no better than the nutjobs who murder people.

Tim Russell

Right, exactly the same.

Rick Czeczok

In watching and listening to this unfold, I keep hearing the question; what can be done to stop these events? In listening to these politicians talk I started to think, why haven’t they figured out what appears to me a pretty simple fix. If anyone has an event where they have 500, 1,000, 2,000, you are required to have security and or police at these events, not just one or two, but many. Yet every day we send our kids to schools where there are no, or very little protection from these people. There should be an armed guard on every floor and every section of schools. They do it at banks and other institutes, where there are large sums of money. Are you going to tell me that money is more important then the safety of our children? We waste so much money in government, let’s take care of this now!!! And no gun control is not the answer, this kid would have made a bomb as he was studying how to make bombs on the web, that would have been just as bad or worse. Florida has the death penalty, start using it. I am a gun owner, and I am just as upset and mournful as people who do not own guns, if not more, because I know, an officer with a AK could have stopped or slowed the affects of this sick kid. Get these schools protected please. Florida has the death penalty, start using it. I am going to get a lot of flack for writing this but I don't care or children mean more to me then all the attacks you can possibly throw my way, so have at it. But we have to do something.


It seems like you have it all figured out, Rick. [batman] Several questions though...

1) Why would you choose to arm officers with an AK instead of the M16A2 or perhaps an M249 with a few extra belts of ammo to spray entry doors before the shooter can get inside? You seem like a put 'em down quick, shoot first, ask questions later sort of guy. What about grenades?

2) Do they have the 19 year-olds parents in cuffs yet?

3) One day when your kid is feeling cheated by the world, gets ahold of your gun, has a breakdown and shoots up Arby's because his supervisor was mean to him, will you walk to the gallows willingly or will you blame someone (anyone) for not having armed personnel stationed everywhere to put your kid down?

4) Where do you do your banking? I haven't spotted any armed guards at the places I keep my money. I'm thinking I should switch.

5) Do you think 500-600 attendees of the Beach Boys concert at the La Crosse Center in June should demand 100 or so armed security staff and SWAT on standby in the likely event some sh*t goes down? You gonna be packin'?

You say you're a gun owner. I wonder, after reading your comments, if someone should be keeping an eye on you.

Rick Czeczok

There he is the PC police. Everything based on BS and clueless to what's happening in our society, as long as you can blame it on someone, other then the people responsible. Read what I stated, and not what you want it to read. Stop over stating my words, as it makes you look really silly.


Sorry for overstating... I’ll admit the grenades thing was really silly but so was the idea of cops at every school armed with AKs.

Whatup Dog

I always cringe when I read this in articles. The male shooter was identified as Nicolas Cruz, said a U.S. official briefed on the investigation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the information publicly.
If your not authorized, keep your cake hole shut!!

Rick Czeczok

Parents, if your kids are mentally ill, KEEP THEM AWAY FROM WEAPONS....
Charge the parents as well, if this end up to be the case. Accountability people, common sense goes a long way. There was an officer at the school, where was he?


Perhaps you should slow your roll until you know what happened, Rick.

Good gracious! Do you know for sure there was even an officer there? Armed? Maybe the officer was on the other end of the school. Maybe he/she was in the crapper for his/her daily constitutional. Let's go ahead and skip the judge and jury, the locals should head over to Home Depot, get some lumber and rope then get started on that gallows!

Rick Czeczok

It was on the news several times. That's my whole point where we need more officers in these schools. I don't have to wait, as this has played out many times always the same outcome.

Rick Czeczok

Not much to judge here. He's not crazy, as this was so well planned and carried out with military precision. Gallows should be built, if nothing more as a deterrent. How's your PC working out for us so far.

Tim Russell

He is 19 years old. Not a student.

Rick Czeczok

Former student, was kicked out.

Tim Russell

So his parents didn't send him to school yesterday as you surmised?

Rick Czeczok

When did I say anything about being sent to school? Agaiñ what's wrong with you....Make sense please......

Tim Russell

His parents didn't give him the gun.


Praying for peace! Parents, pay attention to your kids!


When is this stuff going to end? I am praying for all who are involved.

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