17 dead, 15 wounded after expelled student shoots up Stoneman Douglas High in Broward
We offer our sincere condolences and prayers to the families and friends of the students killed in this horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. We offer our best wishes and prayers for a full recovery for all of the students who were injured. We are heartbroken at the magnitude of this tragedy. One injured student is too many. Oath Keepers
BY CHARLES RABIN, CARLI TEPROFF, KYRA GURNEY AND DAVID SMILEY February 14, 2018
An American nightmare unfolded Wednesday afternoon at a South Florida high school after police say an expelled teenager returned to campus and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing 17 and wounding 15 more in the worst school shooting in Florida history.
Just before dismissal at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, thousands of students puzzled at the sound of an unexpected fire alarm were launched into a panic when gunfire punctuated the din. As teachers and students fled through hallways and hid under desks, a gunman opened fire, leaving a trail of bodies and chaos in his wake.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office says Nikolas Cruz, 19, walked the halls of the high school wielding an AR-15 and multiple magazines. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson told reporters that Cruz pulled a fire alarm and then, wearing a gas mask, began tossing smoke bombs and shooting people as they ran through the haze.
Police say Cruz, known to other students as a loner obsessed with weapons, shot his way onto campus. He gunned down a dozen people inside buildings on the school’s sprawling campus, two more on the grounds, and one more on the corner of Pine Island Road as he fled. Two more died at the hospital. Many underwent surgery at Broward Health hospitals.
The shooter managed to make it off campus before he was taken into custody by police near the community entrance to Pelican Pointe at Wyndham Lakes in Coral Springs. He was transported to Broward Health North, and then sped away from the hospital in a police escort.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office says the school, home to about 3,200 students, had been cleared by early evening. They did not identify any victims.
“It’s a day that you pray, every day when you get up, that you will never have to see. It is in front of us. I ask the community for prayers and their support for the children and their families,” said Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, appearing at a media staging area near the school. “Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn’t have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.”
The shooting began just before dismissal around 3 p.m. Police say Cruz walked onto campus, and shot his way into a school building. Then he pulled a fire alarm.
Students and teachers were puzzled because the school had already held a fire drill that day. Still, some left their bags by their desk and walked out of their classrooms.
“Six kids ran back into my room, and I locked the door, turned out the lights and had the kids go to the back of the room,” math teacher Jim Gard said. “I told the kids to hang in there, it may still be a drill.”
On the first floor, Rebecca Bogart was in holocaust class when bullets shattered a window into the room and struck at least one classmate. Rebecca, 17, said she hid under her teachers desk.
“Four kids in my class were hurt. There was blood everywhere. I’m so glad to be living right now,” she said. “I knew what gunshots sounded like, but not that loud or extreme. It smelled Smokey.”
Police say Cruz was all over the campus during the assault. One student told Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS4 that at one point he ascended to the third floor. In a theater class bathroom, Sarah Crescitelli typed a text to her parents: “If I don’t make it I love you and I appreciated everything you did for me.”
A video posted to social media showed students hiding under desks, screaming as at least 20 gun shots rang out. Some students believed there was a second shooter at the school. Some at the school said a football coach and security guard, Aaron Feis, was shot when he jumped in front of several students, although that report remains unconfirmed.
Geovanni Vilsant, 15, said he was in a Spanish classroom in the three-floor 1200 building when the fire alarm went off. Two minutes later, gun shots rang out enveloping the building in explosions, he said.
Geovanni, a freshman, said he saw three bloody bodies on the floor as he was fleeing the school.
“There was blood everywhere,” he said. “They weren’t moving.”
Israel, whose triplets once attended the high school, called the shooting a “detestable act” and “catastrophic.”
He did not name a motive for the shooting, which he said doesn’t immediately appear to have been prompted by any confrontation and federal authorities don’t believe is related to terrorism. Nor did Israel explain why Cruz was expelled from school beyond saying that it was for disciplinary reasons.
But Gard, the math teacher, told the Miami Herald that Cruz, 19, had been identified as a potential threat to fellow students in the past. He believes the school administration had sent out an email warning teachers that Cruz had made threats against other teenagers in the past. Another student interviewed by the Miami Herald said Cruz was punished once for having bullet casings at school.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” said Gard, who said Cruz had been in his class last year. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”
But he returned Wednesday, re-upping America’s troubled history with guns and forcing police and parents to confront their worst fears.
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