RAM­PAGE AT FLA. SCHOOL

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By MATT STOUT, O’RYAN JOHN­SON and OWEN BOSS Her­ald wire ser­vices con­trib­uted to this re­port.

A 19-year-old for­mer stu­dent armed with an as­sault ri­fle and “count­less mag­a­zines” gunned down at least 17 peo­ple at a South Florida high school yes­ter­day dur­ing the na­tion’s dead­li­est school shoot­ing since a 2012 at­tack on an el­e­men­tary school in New­town, Conn., au­thor­i­ties said.

Equipped with a gas mask and smoke grenades, Niko­las Cruz trig­gered a fire alarm at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, Fla., to draw stu­dents out of their class­rooms shortly be­fore the school day ended, of­fi­cials said. And though they didn’t sug­gest a mo­tive for the ram­page last night, au­thor­i­ties said Cruz was a for­mer stu­dent of the school who had been ex­pelled for dis­ci­plinary rea­sons.

John Obin, 14, said his English teacher, Mrs. Cun­ning­ham, des­per­ately held the door to their class­room shut as gun­fire echoed through the hall­way of the school’s fresh­man build­ing.

It wasn’t un­til heav­ily armed po­lice of­fi­cers smashed the win­dow to the class­room and led them out to safety that he was cer­tain it wasn’t an ac­tive shooter drill, he said.

“I walked out­side and saw two bodies ly­ing in the hall­way,” Obin told the Her­ald, “And an­other one out­side the school.”

Andy Pe­droza, 18, told the Her­ald he was on his way back to class when the sound of “pop­ping noises” prompted him to take shel­ter in a nearby bath­room.

“My in­stincts kicked in,” he said, adding that in the 20 min­utes he was hiding, he heard gun­shots in the hall­way out­side the door.

Paul Brower, the as­sis­tant dean for en­roll­ment at Ni­chols Col­lege in Dud­ley, Mass., was in­side the school on a re­cruit­ing trip when the shoot­ing hap­pened, and was trapped there but un­harmed as it un­folded.

“Even while we were sit­ting there the stu­dents that we were meet­ing with were get­ting so­cial me­dia mes­sages about friends of theirs that had been hurt,” he told WFXT (Ch. 25) last night. “They lost one of their coaches ap­par­ently in this tragedy. It was pretty in­tense for those stu­dents.”

Cruz was taken into cus­tody with­out in­ci­dent about an hour after he left the scene. He had at least one ri­fle and “count­less mag­a­zines,” Sher­iff Scott Is­rael said.

The 17 peo­ple who were killed in the shoot­ing, Is­rael said, were a mix of stu­dents and teach­ers. Twelve were killed in­side the build­ing, others were shot out­side.

Monique Gol­berg, of Boyn­ton Beach, Fla., told the Her­ald she got a text from her daugh­ter let­ting her know her school was un­der at­tack.

“She was tex­ting me that she’s OK,” Gol­berg said. “That it was real and that she was scared.”

The day started nor­mally at the school, which had a morn­ing fire drill, and stu­dents were in class about 2:30 p.m. when an­other alarm sounded.

Cruz used the fire alarm “so the kids would come pour­ing out of the class­rooms into the hall,” U.S. Sen. Bill Nel­son said in an interview on CNN.

“And there the car­nage be­gan,” said Nel­son, who noted he was briefed by the FBI.

The Florida Demo­crat said he didn’t know if Cruz used the smoke grenades, but as­sumed that’s why he had a gas mask on.

The gun­man was iden­ti­fied by a U.S. of­fi­cial briefed on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the in­for­ma­tion pub­licly.

Stu­dent Daniel Huer­fano said he rec­og­nized Cruz from an In­sta­gram photo in which Cruz had posed with a gun in front of his face. He re­called that Cruz was shy when he at­tended the school and re­mem­bered see­ing him walk around with his lunch bag.

Cruz “was that weird kid that you see ... like a loner,” he said.

Fresh­man Max Charles said he heard five gun­shots.

“We were in the cor­ner, away from the win­dows,” he said. “The teacher locked the door and turned off the light. I thought maybe I could die or some­thing.”

As he was leaving the build­ing, Charles said he saw four dead stu­dents and one dead teacher. He said he was re­lieved when he fi­nally found his mother.

“I was happy that I was alive,” Max said. “She was cry­ing when she saw me.”

The school is one of the largest in the state, with about 3,000 stu­dents.

The shoot­ing also brought out po­lit­i­cal anger over gun con­trol, with Bay State U.S. Rep. Seth Moul­ton tweet­ing last night: “I agree with ev­ery word @re­alDon­aldTrump said here. I in­vite him to get off his ass and join me in try­ing to do some­thing about it.”

PHO­TOS BY JOHN MC­CALL/SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SEN­TINEL VIA AP

CAR­NAGE: Med­i­cal per­son­nel tend to a vic­tim, top, and stu­dents re­act fol­low­ing a shoot­ing at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, Fla.

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