Many are still recovering from the horrific scene of violence at a Florida high school yesterday. The Valentine's Day massacre took the lives of 17 students, who were gunned down despite the school's strict adherence to intruder and active-shooter training procedures. The suspect was eventually revealed to be Nicolas Cruz, who had been expelled from the school the previous year.
Right after the Christmas break, the Broward County Public Schools held their yearly training, in which the Sheriff's Office met with staff from various schools including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. However, it wasn't enough to combat the ex-student, who was carrying an AR-15 assault rifle.
12 students were killed in the school building, two more outside the building, one in the street, and a further two died of their wounds in hospital. It was the 18th US shooting in 2018.
“They said, ‘Tell your kids if they hear a fire alarm or if somebody knocks on the door and says ‘Let us in,’ don’t open the door for anybody,’” a teacher who attended this training told The Daily Beast. Unfortunately, possibly knowing the procedures of his former school, the 19-year-old waited until five minutes before the dismissal time before he pulled a fire alarm, rather than being spotted roaming the hallways.
Cruz was expelled from the school and enrolled in another school in the district. He was described by many as "troubled" and obsessed with firearms. "There were problems with him last year threatening students," said math teacher Jim Gard, 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."
"I stayed clear of him most of the time," one teen told news station 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."
Cruz was apprehended by the local police following a large but short manhunt, and has now been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. The mugshot of the Cruz has now been released, which you can see below:
In light of this tragic event, old photos were discovered on Cruz' now-deleted Instagram account. In the social media history, which Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel called "very, very disturbing", images were found of the killer posing with guns and knives, though his face was concealed in most of the photos. He also took numerous photos of his gun collection, which he claimed were for "hunting".
While the event came out of nowhere, some students weren't altogether surprised that Cruz was the culprit. "A lot of kids threw jokes around saying that he was going to be the one to shoot up the school," one student said. "It turns out that everyone predicted it. That's crazy."
In the aftermath of this senseless act of violence, our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of the victims.