‘A HOR­RI­BLE DAY FOR US’

Gun­man kills 17 at Florida school

Edmonton Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Terry Spencer and Kelli Kennedy in Park­land, Fla.

Aformer stu­dent armed with a semi-au­to­matic as­sault ri­fle opened fire at a Florida high school Wed­nes­day killing a re­ported 17 peo­ple. Stu­dents were sent run­ning out into the streets, or into hiding in clos­ets, as the 19-year-old gun­man en­tered Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School at about 2:15 p.m. and then went from class­room to class­room shoot­ing peo­ple.

Par­ents of stu­dents were get­ting pan­icked texts from chil­dren even as armed po­lice and SWAT of­fi­cers were in the school search­ing for the gun­man.

“We’re on code red. I’m fine,” Brit­tani Fein­gold said in a text to her mother, Beth, at 2:32 p.m. Shortly af­ter­ward she added, “Mom, I’m so scared.”

“It is a hor­rific sit­u­a­tion,” said Broward County Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Robert Run­cie at the scene. “It is a hor­ri­ble day for us.

“It is a day you pray ev­ery day you don’t have to see.”

He added, “We re­ceived no warn­ings. Po­ten­tially there could have been signs out there. But we didn’t have any warn­ing or phone calls or threats that were made.”

The Broward County Sher­iff’s Of­fice said 17 were dead. Twelve of the dead vic­tims were found in the school. Two more were found dead just out­side the school and one more in a nearby street. Two other peo­ple died later un­der med­i­cal treat­ment.

Many other vic­tims were sent to hospi­tal. The male shooter was iden­ti­fied as Ni­co­las Cruz, said a U.S. of­fi­cial briefed on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

One stu­dent told CBS Mi­ami, “(Cruz) got kicked out of school last year, he al­ways had guns on him, he was a lit­tle bit of a trou­bled kid, the crazy stuff that he did was not right for school and he got kicked out of school most of the time for the stuff.”

The stu­dent said Cruz was never shy when it came to show­ing off his guns.

“He car­ried mul­ti­ple guns, he showed me his guns, I ac­tu­ally got kicked out of school my­self and he showed me per­son­ally what guns he had. A lot of times the kids wouldn’t pick on him be­cause they knew what could go on, it was scary some­times.”

Jim Gard, a teacher at the school, told The Mi­ami Her­ald that an email had been sent out ear­lier warn­ing teach­ers that Cruz had made some threats and wasn’t al­lowed on the cam­pus with a back­pack.

Broward County Sher­iff Scott Is­rael con­firmed the shooter was pre­vi­ously ex­pelled for dis­ci­plinary rea­sons.

He said the shooter was out­side and in­side the school at points dur­ing the at­tack, and taken into cus­tody “with­out in­ci­dent” about an hour after he left the school.

Cruz was armed with a semi-au­to­matic AR-15 as­sault ri­fle, Is­rael said, and “count­less mag­a­zines.”

“This is cat­a­strophic,” he said. “There re­ally are no words.”

Michael Nem­b­hard said he was sit­ting in his garage more than a kilo­me­tre from the school watch­ing the cover­age on TV when he heard a po­lice of­fi­cer yelling, “Get on the ground, get on the ground, get on the ground!” He looked up and about 150 me­tres away he saw a teenage boy on the ground and an of­fi­cer point­ing a gun at him. The of­fi­cer stood over the boy un­til other of­fi­cers ar­rived, and the boy was hand­cuffed be­hind his back and taken away, Nem­b­hard said.

At the school, Noah Par­ness, a 17-year-old ju­nior, said the fire alarm went off for the sec­ond time of the day about 2:30 p.m. He said he and the other stu­dents calmly went out­side to their fire drill ar­eas when he sud­denly heard sev­eral pops.

“Every­one was kind of just stand­ing there calm, and then we saw a bunch of teach­ers run­ning down the stair­way, and then ev­ery­body shifted and broke into a sprint,” Par­ness said. “I hopped a fence.”

Gard, the school teacher, told CBS, “We had a code red from our ad­min­is­tra­tion that said no move­ment, all doors have to be locked, get back in the class­room, don’t let any­body in, even if they’re bang­ing on doors.”

The high school is a sprawl­ing com­plex set on a tract in the South Florida com­mu­nity of Park­land, about 70 kilo­me­tres north of down­town Mi­ami. It has about 3,100 stu­dents.

Tele­vi­sion footage showed po­lice, with weapons drawn, en­ter­ing the school, then dozens of chil­dren fran­ti­cally run­ning out. A po­lice of­fi­cer waved them on, urg­ing them to quickly evac­u­ate.

Some stu­dents fled 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 that stu­dents and staff heard what sounded like gun­fire and the school im­me­di­ately went on lock­down.

Cae­sar Figueroa said when he got to the school to check on his 16-year-old daugh­ter, he saw po­lice of­fi­cers draw­ing ma­chine guns as they ap­proached the grounds.

“My wife called me that there was an ac­tive shooter and the school was on lock­down. I got on the road and saw he­li­copters. It was crazy and my daugh­ter wasn’t an­swer­ing her phone.”

She fi­nally texted him that she was in­side a closet with friends.

One pupil said a friend had texted her to say: “There’s a lot of blood.”

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

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.

No in­for­ma­tion has been pro­vided yet to par­ents, he said. “I’m scared for the other par­ents here. You can see the con­cern in ev­ery­body’s faces. Ev­ery­body is ask­ing, ‘Have you heard from your child yet?’” Mur­ray said.

He said he’s 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 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.”

Lis­sette Rozen­bley, whose daugh­ter was evac­u­ated from the school, told CNN: “My daugh­ter was tex­ting, she was very ner­vous, she could hear a per­son shot cry­ing out for help. She was a ner­vous wreck. I told her ‘I love you’.”

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.”

JOEL AUERBACH / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Dis­traught par­ents wait for news after re­ports of a shoot­ing spree at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, Fla., on Wed­nes­day.

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