August 19, 2018
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17 killed in South Florida high school shooting

Joel Auerbach | AP
Joel Auerbach | AP
Parents wait for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
By David Fleshler, Aric Chokey, Lisa J. Huriash and Linda Trischitta, The Sun Sentinel
Updated:

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Seventeen people were shot to death and several others wounded Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, in a horrific episode of school violence that ended with the arrest of a former student.

Panicked parents streamed to this school in an affluent part of Broward County, as news helicopters broadcast the incident live and students congregated on streets, many crying, hugging and calling friends and family on their phones.

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.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said 17 people were killed, including students and adults, with two killed outside the school, one in the street, 12 inside the school and two dying from their wounds at the hospital.

The suspect was identified as Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student. The sheriff said investigators have begun analyzing his social media accounts, which he said contained material that was “very disturbing.”

Cruz was taken into custody off campus without incident, he said. Wearing a red shirt, black pants and black boots, Cruz could be seen being placed on a gurney. At 4:47 p.m. he was seen being wheeled in to Broward Health North hospital in Deerfield Beach.

Later he was taken from the hospital to Broward Sheriff’s Office headquarters in Fort Lauderdale.

FBI agents were on the scene interviewing students asking for anyone who saw the shooter.

“You’re OK!” One student said as she cried and hugged her friend who had just come out. “You’re safe now, don’t worry.”

Samuel Dykes, a freshman, was on the third floor of the school when he said he heard gunshots, and saw several bodies in a classroom.

SWAT told the class to keep their eyes forward as they exited the school, he said.

At around dismissal time at 2:40 p.m., staff and students heard what sounded like gunfire and enacted a “code red” lock down, according to the Broward School District.

A television news helicopter report showed several people on gurneys being placed into fire rescue ambulances and groups of children walking across a road. Television news cameras showed a young man with reddish hair wearing a red shirt who was surrounded by SWAT officers and put in handcuffs and being taken into custody.

“It’s a horrific situation,” Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie said. “It’s just a horrible day for us.”

Students were streaming down Pine Island Road at 3:30. Some of them crying, some were talking on cellphones.

Meghan Walton’s mascara was running as she walked down Pine Island Road with her mother. Derval Walton. She was waiting in the car line to pick her 15 year old freshman daughter up when she got the ominous text from her: “code red.”

“Kids were running out full of blood,” Derval Walton said. “Kids were falling in the grass.”

Hannah Siren, 14, was in math class on the third floor.

“The people next door to us must have not locked their door,” she said, breaking into tears. “They all got shot.”

How many?

“10 or … seven.”

President Donald Trump tweeted: “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.”

Deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters said, “We are monitoring the situation,” she said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.”

Gov. Rick Scott announced plans to come to Broward County immediately. He spoke on the phone with Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, Broward schools superintendent Robert Runcie and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen, according to the governor’s office.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said she was on her way to the area.

“Praying for everyone involved in today’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” she said in a statement issued by her office. “I am on the way with my victim advocates and we will be available in full force to help all victims and their families with any services they need.”

There are 3,208 children in grades 9-12 enrolled at the school.

Parents at area schools — including Sawgrass Springs Middle School and Westglades Middle School — said they received texts that those campuses were locked down.

Jay Golden’s daughter Rachel who was at the school when the first sign of problem came. Rachel, a senior, texted him that there was a “code red,” a shooting, and she didn’t know if it was real or a drill.

At 3 p.m. she still hadn’t been evacuated from the building, but told her father she was safe with 40 other students and a teacher.

“She was crying, she’s scared,” said Golden, of Parkland. “She’s been texting back and forth. She’s OK at the moment.”

“I’m freaking out,” her father said. “This is crazy, this stuff shouldn’t be going on in these schools. People are crazy. I don’t know what goes on through these people’s minds these days, it’s a scary thing. It’s one of those things — you don’t want to put a metal protector and treat them like prisoners, but they have to figure something out. You put your kids in school and it’s supposed to be a safe place, and this stuff happens all the time.”

(Susannah Bryan, Anne Geggis, Skyler Swisher and Scott Travis of the Sun Sentinel contributed to this report.)

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