The New Zealand Herald - - WORLD - Terry Spencer Kelli Kennedy

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.”

Sources in­clude Wash­ing­ton Post, Sta­men Maps. Pic­tures: AP / Her­ald graphic


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