‘Nu­mer­ous’ dead in school shoot­ing

Kingston Whig-Standard - - WORLD NEWS - TERRY SPENCER and KELLI KENNEDY

PARK­LAND, Fla. — A for­mer stu­dent opened fire at a Flor­ida high school Wed­nes­day, killing “nu­mer­ous” peo­ple, send­ing stu­dents run­ning out into the streets and SWAT team mem­bers swarm­ing in be­fore au­thor­i­ties took him into cus­tody about a mile away.

Fran­tic par­ents rushed to the scene and am­bu­lances con­verged in front of the Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School. Live footage showed emer­gency work­ers ap­pear­ing to treat pos­si­bly wounded peo­ple on the side­walks.

The Broward County Sher­iff’s Of­fice tweeted Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon that “so far we have at least 14 vic­tims.” The tweet added: “Vic­tims have been and con­tinue to be trans­ported to Broward Health Med­i­cal Cen­ter and Broward Health North hos­pi­tal.”

Broward County Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Robert Run­cie said there were “nu­mer­ous fa­tal­i­ties.”

“It is a hor­rific sit­u­a­tion.” He added, “It is a hor­ri­ble day for us.”

The male shooter was iden­ti­fied as Ni­co­las Cruz, said a U.S. of­fi­cial briefed on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The of­fi­cial spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the in­for­ma­tion pub­licly. Pre­vi­ously, Broward County Sher­iff Scott Is­rael had said the shooter was a for­mer stu­dent. 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. Is­rael said po­lice were wait­ing for the SWAT team to give them the all-clear so that they could go in­side the school.

Michael Nem­b­hard said he was sit­ting in his garage about a kilo­me­tre away 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 140 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.”

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.

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.

Tele­vi­sion footage showed po­lice in olive fa­tigues, with weapons drawn, en­ter­ing the school, then dozens of chil­dren fran­ti­cally run­ning and walk­ing quickly out. 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 that stu­dents and staff heard what sounded like gun­fire and the school im­me­di­ately went on lock­down.

Beth Fein­gold said her daugh­ter, Brit­tani, sent a text at 2:32 p.m. that said, “We’re on code red. I’m fine,” but sent an­other text shortly af­ter­ward say­ing, “Mom, I’m so scared.”

Brit­tani later was able to es­cape the school, but was run­ning along a busy road for part of the time, in what was a very chaotic scene around school — one of the state’s largest in the county with about 3,000 stu­dents.

Fein­gold said her daugh­ter strug­gled with anx­i­ety so she knew that she needed to stay calm. She told her daugh­ter in a phone con­ver­sa­tion when she was still in­side a school build­ing that a Swat team was there to pro­tect her. She said she told her: “Your dad is on one side of the build­ing, and I’m on the other.”

Fein­gold said there had been a fire drill in the morn­ing. Then in fourth pe­riod, some­one pulled the fire alarm again and shouted code red.

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