Netizen 24 ZAF: Florida shooting: Teenager charged with 17 counts of murder

Posted by On 5:46 AM

Florida shooting: Teenager charged with 17 counts of murder

A 19-year-old man has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder following a mass shooting at a Florida high school.

The incident happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a town about 50km north of Fort Lauderdale, shortly before 3pm as the school day was coming to a close.

Nikolas Cruz was detained after the shooting, which left 17 dead and 15 injured. He was questioned for hours by state and US federal authorities and charged on Thursday morning.

Just before the shooting broke out, some students thought they were having another fire drill.

Such an exercise had forced them to leave their classrooms hours earlier. So when the alarm went off Wednesday afternoon shortly before they were to be dismissed, they once again filed out into the hallways.

That was when police say Mr Cruz, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon.

Nikolas Cruz appears in a police booking photo after being charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder following the Florida school shooting. The picture was taken at Broward County Jail in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Thursday. Photograph: Broward County Sheriff/Handout via Reuters.
Nikolas Cruz appears in a police booking photo after being charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder following the Florida school shooting. The picture was taken at Broward County Jail in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Thursday. Photograph: Broward County Sheriff/Handout via Reuters.

Thousands of students were evacuated from the school after the attack took place, some carried out in stretchers.

Frantic parents rushed to the school to find Swat team members and ambulances surrounding the huge campus and emergency workers who appeared to be treating the wounded on pavements. Students who had not run began leaving in a single-file line with their hands over their heads as officers urged them to evacuate quickly.

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

It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.

“Our district is in a tremendous state of grief and sorrow,” 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.”

A SWAT truck at the scene of the attack. Photograph: Cristobal Herrera/EPA
A SWAT truck at the scene of the attack. Photograph: Cristobal Herrera/EPA

Volatile

Authorities offered no immediate details about Mr Cruz or his possible motive, except to say that he had been kicked out of the high school, which has about 3,000 students. Students who knew him described a volatile teenager whose strange behaviour had caused others to end friendships with him.

The suspect was found by police at the nearby town Coral Springs. He was taken into custody and transferred to a nearby hospital, before being moved to a police station.

Of the 17 victims, 12 died in the school, and two just outside the building, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. Two further victims died in the hospital, while one person was shot on the street. The victims were both pupils and teachers.

The suspect “was taken into custody about an hour after he left Stoneman Douglas after he committed this horrific, detestable act,” the sheriff said. He urged the public to be aware of any signs of violence or disturbing pictures on social media. “If you see something, say something,” he said.

Scott Israel, Sheriff of Broward County, (L) and Flo   rida Governor Rick Scott speak to the media. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Scott Israel, Sheriff of Broward County, (L) and Florida Governor Rick Scott speak to the media. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

An AR-15 style firearm has been seized by police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is believed to be currently tracing the firearm.

Broward County school superintendent Robert Runcie said police had received “no warnings, no threats,” about an imminent attack. “It’s a day that you pray, every day, that we will never have to see. I ask the community for their prayers, their support for these children and their families. We are going to do whatever we can to come together as a community to come through this.”

US president Donald Trump said his thoughts and prayers were with those affected. “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting,” he tweeted. “No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”

Shortly after the attack, Mr Trump and department of homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen spoke by phone to Florida’s governor Rick Scott and to various state and local officials. The president offered federal assistance to the governor, the White House said.

US vice-president Mike Pence said: “Our hearts break for all the victims and families affected by today’s terrible sc hool shooting in Broward County, FL. These students, teachers, administrators, and families will all remain in our prayers,” he said.

Wednesday’s attack, which took place on St Valentine’s Day, is the fourth fatal gun incident to take place at an American school in 2018. Last month a student at a Kentucky high school shot 16 people, killing two other 15 year-olds. â€"Additional reporting: PA

A group of police officers stand guard in front of the side entrance of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photograph: Cristobal Herrera/EPA
A group of police officers stand guard in front of the side entrance of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photograph: Cristobal Herrera/EPA
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