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Former student (19) charged with premeditated murder after 17 killed in Florida school shooting

It is understood that both pupils and teachers at the school are among the dead.

School Shooting Florida Photo provided by the Broward County Jail shows Nikolas Cruz. Source: AP/PA Images

Updated at 1pm

  • It has been confirmed that 17 have died in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
  • A number of other people have been taken to hospital for treatment.
  • The gunman has been identified as Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former pupil at the school who was expelled.
  • Both pupils and teachers are said to be among the dead.
  • It is understood Cruz began shooting outside the school before going inside.

SUSPECTED GUNMAN NIKOLAS Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after 17 people were killed during a school shooting in Florida.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters yesterday evening that 12 people were killed inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The others died outside the school premises.

Cruz was armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and was carrying multiple magazines of ammunition when he was arrested in a nearby residential area.

17 patients were taken Broward Health hospitals with injuries. 8 patients were taken to Broward Health North hospital – two subsequently died, three are in critical condition and three are in stable condition. The suspect was taken to hospital for treatment.

Speaking to reporters yesterday evening, a doctor from Broward Health North said: ”We routinely run drills to be ready for instances like this. We have a process in place that gets initiated so there is calm, collected care that our patients receive.”

original-florida Students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School evacuate following a shooting. Source: WPLG-TV via AP

He said that three patients were undergoing surgery, but were in a stable condition.

The doctors declined to comment on the ages of those injured.

Israel identified the gunman as Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at the school who had been expelled for “disciplinary reasons,” but was currently enrolled in Broward County Public Schools.

Cruz, whose fellow students described him as “troubled,” was arrested without incident in the nearby town of Coral Springs after the Valentine’s Day rampage and taken to hospital with minor injuries, the sheriff said.

“We have already begun to dissect his websites and things on social media that he was on and some of the things… are very, very disturbing,” Israel said.

If a person is predisposed to commit such a horrific event by going to a school and shooting people … there’s not anybody or not a lot law enforcement can do about it.

It is understood that the shooter began shooting outside the school and proceeded inside.

Israel says the man had at least one rifle and multiple magazines.

Reactions

US president Donald Trump tweeted his condolences to those affected by the shooting yesterday evening.

“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,” Trump said.

The shooting, one of several in the United States since the start of the year, will once again throw the spotlight on the country’s epidemic of gun violence and the ready accessibility of weapons, with 33,000 gun-related deaths annually.

Len Murray’s 17-year-old son, a junior at the school, sent his parents a 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.”

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.

Television footage showed police in olive fatigues, with weapons drawn, entering the school, then dozens of children frantically running and walking quickly out.

School Shooting Florida Students exiting the school after being alerted to an active shooter Source: WPLG-TV via AP

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 earlier yesterday evening 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.

‘I love you’

Murray said he 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 this 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 track in the South Florida community of Parkland, about 70 kilometres north of downtown Miami.

At Least 17 Dead In High School Shooting - Florida Family reunited outside the school Source: Sun Sentinel/TNS/ABACA/PA Images

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 neighbourhood of single-family homes.

Coral Springs Police have warned the local public to avoid the area. The school was placed on lockdown following the shooting, as students and teachers were barricaded in.

‘Just a horrible day for us’

Teacher Melissa Falkowski told US networks that she had helped 19 students squeeze into a closet with her.

“We were in there for probably 40 minutes. We were locked in the closet until SWAT came and got us,” she told CNN.

Police officers in helmets, bulletproof vests and armed with automatic weapons could be seen stationed at several points around the sprawling school complex, which serves nearly 3,000 students.

At Least 17 Dead In High School Shooting - Florida Family members awaiting news from students at the school Source: Sun Sentinel/TNS/ABACA/PA Images

“Just a horrible day for us,” said the superintendent of the county’s school district, Robert Runcie.

“This is very sad to me and our family too,” 61-year-old Joseph Panikulangara, whose 17-year-old niece Dhiya attends the school, told AFP.

The FBI said it was assisting local law enforcement with the investigation.

When asked about security, Hunschofsky said a police officer is always stationed at the school and there is a “single point of entry.”

With reporting by Associated Press and AFP

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