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Gunman kills at least 17 people at Florida high school

| Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, 3:18 p.m.

PARKLAND, Fla. — A former student opened fire Wednesday at a Florida high school, killing "numerous" people, sending students running out into the streets and SWAT team members swarming in before authorities took him into custody. A U.S. official identified the shooter as Nikolas Cruz.

Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County says 17 people have died in the shooting attack. Israel said the 19-year-old suspect is in custody and that investigators are beginning to "dissect" what happened in the attack.

It was the nation's deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Frantic parents rushed to the scene and ambulances converged in front of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Live footage showed emergency workers appearing to treat possibly wounded people on the sidewalks.

In a grainy Snapchat video from the school, a man yelled, "Oh, my God," as the pop-pop, pop-pop of four gunshots rang out and students screamed.

Helicopter footage from WSVN-TV showed police searching a person with short hair, wearing a dark red shirt and dark pants. The person was handcuffed and put in the back of a police cruiser without apparent struggle.

Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie says "There are numerous fatalities. It is a horrific situation." He added, "It is a horrible day for us."

The Broward County Sheriff's Office tweeted Wednesday afternoon that "so far we have at least 14 victims." The tweet added: "Victims have been and continue to be transported to Broward Health Medical Center and Broward Health North hospital."

The male shooter, approximately 18, was a student at the school at one time, but was not at the time of the shooting, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. He said the shooter was outside and inside the school at points during the attack, and taken into custody "without incident" about an hour after he left the school. Israel said police were waiting for the SWAT team to give them the all-clear so that they could go inside.

Noah Parness, a 17-year-old junior, said the fire alarm went off for the second time of the day about 2:30 p.m. He said he and the other students calmly went outside to their fire drill areas when he suddenly heard several pops.

"Everyone was kind of just standing there calm, and then 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."

Parent John Obin says his son, a freshman at the school, says his child was in class when he heard several shots. The father says his son advised that teachers quickly rushed students out of the school. He adds the boy told his father that he walked by two people on the ground motionless — and apparently dead — as students rushed outside.

"This is a really good school, and now it's like a war zone," Obin said.

Another parent, Beth Feingold, says her daughter sent a text at 2:32 p.m. saying "We're on code red. I'm fine." But she then sent another text soon afterward saying, "Mom, I'm so scared." The girl was later able to escape the school unharmed.

Coral Springs Police said on their Twitter account that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was locked down and that students and teachers inside should remain barricaded until police reach them.

Len Murray's 17-year-old son, a junior at the school, sent his parents a chilling text around 2:30pm: "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."

Another student who declined to give her name reported hearing "five pops" after someone pulled a fire alarm.

"Kids were freaking out, some kids froze, some were on their phones, some were trying to Snapchat because they thought it was a joke, and it wasn't," she said.

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

Ambulances converged in front of the school, and TV news broadcasts showed at least one person being wheeled to an ambulance on a gurney. Live footage also showed emergency workers appearing to treat possibly wounded people on the sidewalks. It wasn't immediately clear how many were wounded. The Broward County Sheriff's Office tweeted that the shooter was still at large even as the evacuation was underway.

Television footage showed police in olive fatigues, with weapons drawn, entering the school, then dozens of children frantically running and walking quickly out. A police officer waved the students on, urging them to quickly evacuate. Some students exited the building in single-file rows with hands raised overhead to show they carried no weapons. Others held onto other students as they made their way out past helmeted police in camouflage with weapons drawn.

The Broward Schools department said on its website that it had received reports of "possible multiple injuries" and was dismissing students. The department said students and staff heard what sounded like gunfire and the school immediately went on lockdown.

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, while the boy's mother told him to turn off his ringer.

No information has been provided yet to parents, he said. "I'm scared for the other parents here. You can see the concern in everybody's faces. Everybody is asking, 'Have you heard from your child yet?'" Murray said.

Murray said he's had just one thought running through his mind since he got 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 think 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. Say it early and often, I'm telling you."

The high school is a sprawling complex set on a tract in the South Florida community of Parkland, about 45 miles north of downtown Miami.

The school had just over 3,100 students in the 2016-2017 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Major streets run along two sides and an expressway passes nearby on the other not far from a residential neighborhood of single family homes.

Students released from a lockdown are overcome with emotion following following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Students released from a lockdown are overcome with emotion following following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Students released from a lockdown embrace following following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Students released from a lockdown embrace following following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Parents wait for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Joel Auerbach | Associated Press
Parents wait for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Medical personnel tend to a victim following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Medical personnel tend to a victim following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Students wait to be picked up after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Students wait to be picked up after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
A parent talks on cellphone waiting for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
A parent talks on cellphone waiting for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
A student shows a law enforcement officer a photo or video from his phone, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.
Associated Press
A student shows a law enforcement officer a photo or video from his phone, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.
Family members embrace after a student walked out from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.
Associated Press
Family members embrace after a student walked out from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.
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, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Associated Press
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, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
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