‘STATE OF GRIEF AND SORROW’
Jand in Parkland ust before the shooting broke out, some students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School 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 yesterday shortly before they were to be dismissed, they once again filed out into the hallways.
That’s when police say 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, equipped with a gas The shooting is among the
in modern US history It was the this year and the sixth in which students were wounded or killed, according to the advocacy website Everytown for Gun Safety, which has logged or counted 290 school shootings since 2013. mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets. 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.” Beginning with Columbine 19 years ago, more than at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus. In addition dozens of suicides, accidents and afterschool assaults have also exposed children to gunfire.
Authorities offered no immediate details about Cruz or his possible motive, except to say that he had been kicked out of the high school, which has about 3000 students. Students who knew him described a volatile teenager whose strange behaviour had caused others to end friendships with him.
Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old junior at the school, said Cruz was expelled last school year because he got into a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. She said he had been abusive to his girlfriend.
“I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him,” she said.
Cruz was taken into custody without a fight about an hour after the shooting, in a residential neighbourhood about 1.5km away. He had multiple magazines of ammunition, authorities said.
“It’s catastrophic. There really are no words,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
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 footpaths. Students who hadn’t run began leaving in a single-file line with their hands over their heads as officers urged them to evacuate quickly. Hearing loud bangs as the shooter fired, many of the students inside hid under desks or in closets, and barricaded doors.
“We were in the corner, away from the windows,” said freshman Max Charles, who said he heard five gunshots. “The teacher locked the door and turned off the light. I thought maybe I could die or something.”