Breaking: At least 17 dead at a high school shooting in Florida
At least 17 people were killed at a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Coral Springs, Florida. Multiple people have been injured, but we are still waiting for an exact number at this time.
After a massive manhunt, police apprehended the shooter without incident, and brought him into custody. The suspect has been identified as 19-year-old Nicolas de Jesus Cruz. Cruz attended the school at one time, but is not enrolled there right now. The other students describe him as "troubled," and obsessed with firearms.
"I stayed clear of him most of the time," one teen told WSVN. "He’s been a troubled kid, and he’s always had a certain amount of issues going on. He shot guns because he felt it gave him, I guess, an exhilarating feeling." Another former classmate said, "I didn’t want to cause any conflict with him because of the impression he gave off."
"There were problems with him last year threatening students," said Jim Gard, a math teacher who previously taught Cruz. "I guess he was asked to leave campus. We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him."
Television footage of the scene showed a war zone; every parent's worst nightmare. Emergency workers treated the wounded on sidewalks and loaded victims into ambulances. Dozens of children rushed out of the school in a panic, with authorities waving them to safety. Police officers in camouflage stormed inside the school, with weapons drawn, to evacuate the remaining students. The children walked out in single-file lines, with their hands up to show they had no weapons. They were taken to West Glades Middle School which is on lockdown.
One student says a fire alarm went off at 2:30pm, and they heard about six gunshots. Chaos followed, and students scrambled to get away from the deadly gunfire. Some barricaded themselves in classrooms. One girl said she jumped a fence, and hurt her toe on the way down. Another girl said she saw a window blow out, screamed and hid in a nearby closet. As she waited for help, she texted her dad, because she was too scared to speak on the phone. When her father arrived, he said, "It's the worst nightmare not hearing from my daughter for 20 minutes, it was the longest 20 minutes of my life."
The FBI is assisting local authorities at the scene. They're telling the students still inside the school to remain where they are, until the police can reach them and escort them to safety.
Many students have kept in touch with their parents and authorities through text messages. The instant communication proved both comforting and frightening. One daughter sent her mother a text that read, "We're on code red. I'm fine." Another text soon followed, reading: "Mom, I'm so scared." (The girl later escaped from the building unharmed.) Meanwhile, one 17-year-old junior sent his parents this text message, "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."
President Trump responded on Twitter, writing, "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."
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, there have been 290 school shootings in the United States since 2013. That is an average of once a week.