Ex-stu­dent opens up fire, killing at least 17

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Front Page - By Terry Spencer and Kelli Kennedy The As­so­ci­ated Press

PARK­LAND, FLA. » A for­mer stu­dent opened fire with a semi-au­to­matic ri­fle at a Florida high school Wed­nes­day, killing at least 17 peo­ple and send­ing hun­dreds of stu­dents flee­ing into the streets in the na­tion’s dead­li­est school shoot­ing since a gun­man at­tacked an el­e­men­tary school in New­town, Con­necti­cut.

The shooter, who was equipped with a gas mask and smoke grenades, set off a fire alarm to draw stu­dents out of class­rooms shortly be­fore the day ended at one of the state’s largest schools, of­fi­cials said.

Au­thor­i­ties of­fered no im­me­di­ate details on the 19-year-old sus­pect or any pos­si­ble mo­tive, ex­cept to say that he had been kicked out of Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School, which has about 3,000 stu­dents.

Stu­dents who knew the shooter, iden­ti­fied as Niko­las Cruz, de­scribed a volatile teenager whose strange be­hav­ior had caused others to end friend­ships with him, par­tic­u­larly after the fight that led to his ex­pul­sion.

Fran­tic par­ents rushed to the school to find SWAT team mem­bers and am­bu­lances sur­round­ing the huge cam­pus. Live tele­vi­sion footage showed emer­gency work­ers who ap­peared to be treat­ing the wounded on side­walks.

“It is a hor­rific sit­u­a­tion,” 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.”

The sus­pect was taken into cus­tody with­out a fight in a res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood about a mile away. He had mul­ti­ple mag­a­zines of am­mu­ni­tion, au­thor­i­ties said.

“It’s cat­a­strophic. There re­ally are no words,” Broward County Sher­iff Scott Is­rael told re­porters.

The at­tacker used the fire alarm “so the kids would come pour­ing out of the class­rooms into the hall,” Sen. Bill Nel­son told CNN.

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

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

Most of the fa­tal­i­ties were in­side the build­ing, though some vic­tims were found out­side. The dead in­cluded a foot­ball coach, the sher­iff said.

More than a dozen other peo­ple were wounded and taken to hos­pi­tals, doc­tors said.

Vic­to­ria Olvera, a 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.

Dakota Mutch­ler, an­other ju­nior, said he used to be friends with Cruz. But he cut off the friend­ship as Cruz’s be­hav­ior “started pro­gres­sively get­ting a lit­tle more weird.” Cruz posted on In­sta­gram about killing an­i­mals and threat­ened one of Mutch­ler’s friends, he said.

He re­mem­bered that Cruz had a pel­let gun and did tar­get prac­tice in his back­yard.

Stu­dent Daniel Huer­fano said he rec­og­nized Cruz from an In­sta­gram photo in which Cruz had posed with a gun in front of his face.

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

Fresh­man Max Charles was in class when 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.”

JOHN MC­CALL — SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SEN­TINEL VIA AP

Stu­dents re­leased from a lock­down em­brace fol­low­ing fol­low­ing a shoot­ing at Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, Fla., Wed­nes­day.

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