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‘Numerous’ dead in Florida school shooting

Nikolas Cruz stands with his lawyer during a court appearance Thursday. Associated Press/Photo by Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel

‘Numerous’ dead in Florida school shooting

UPDATE: The teen charged with 17 counts of murder after a shooting at a South Florida high school confessed to sheriff’s department investigators that he killed his former schoolmates. Nikolas Cruz, 19, who used a semi-automatic rifle and had more amunition in his backpack that he didn’t use, told Broward County Sheriff's deputies he shot students outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and in the hallways before dropping the gun and backpack in an attempt to blend in with other teens fleeing his carnage. The officer who eventually arrested Cruz said he looked like any other student walking away from the school. Before his arrest, Cruz stopped at a Subway inside a Walmart, where he bought a drink, and at a McDonald’s. Cruz was wearing a maroon polo shirt emblazoned with the school’s mascot, an eagle, and the logo for its ROTC program, in which he participated before school administrators expelled him last year. During a brief court appearance Thursday, a judge ordered Cruz held without bond. His lawyer, who stood with her arm around him during part of the hearing, described him as a “broken human being.” Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Leon County Sheriff’s Office in Tallahassee disputed a white nationalist group’s claim that Cruz was a member. Lt. Grady Jordan said his officers kept a close eye on the so-called Republic of Florida, arresting leader Jordan Jereb at least four times since 2014. Deputies had “very solid” information indicating no connection between Cruz and the group, Lt. Jordan said.

UPDATE (1:10 p.m.): The teen who killed 17 at a South Florida high school Wednesday belonged to a white nationalist militia that wants to establish a white ethno-state, according to the group’s leader. Jordan Jereb confirmed Nikolas Cruz belonged to the group and particiapted in paramilitary drills in Tallahassee before the shooting. But he said Cruz “acted on his own behalf” when he attacked his former high school. Although Jereb said he didn’t know Cruz personally, he said he had “trouble with a girl” and suggested the attack’s timing, on Valentine’s Day, had something to do with that. Former classmates told reporters that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School administrators expelled Cruz after he got into a fight with his former girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Investigators have not provided any details on a possible motive for the shooting.

UPDATE (9:30 a.m.): Florida prosecutors charged Nikolas Cruz on Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder after he opened fire with an AR-15 rifle Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Officials say 14 victims who sustained injuries in the shooting remain hospitalized. Former classmates of Cruz, 19, described the teen as a loner who often harassed his peers. School administrators expelled him last year for “disciplinary reasons” but would not elaborate on the details. Investigators are combing through Cruz’s social media accounts, on which he talked about killing animals and posted photos of himself with guns. They’re also talking to the family that took Cruz in after his mother died in November. His father died several years ago. The family Cruz lived with knew he had the AR-15, bought legally about a year ago, but they made him keep it locked in a cabinet. While he lived with them, Cruz was quiet and respectful, although sad over losing his mother, the family said through spokesman Jim Lewis. “No indication that anything severe like this was wrong,” Lewis said. “Just a mildly troubled kid who’d lost his mom. ... He totally kept this from everybody.” But Cruz had sought treatment at a mental health clinic but hadn’t been there in about a year. And former neighbors said he scared them with bizarre and threatening behavior.

UPDATE (2/14/18, 6:45 p.m.): At least 17 students were killed in Wednesday’s shooting at a southern Florida high school, according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. He said the shooter, 19-year-old Nicolas de Jesus Cruz, had at least one rifle and multiple magazines. Cruz was previously expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons. Israel said police found most of the fatalities inside of the high school, though some were fatally shot outside, as well. Authorities have not disclosed a motive for the shooting.

OUR EARLIER REPORT (2/14/18, 5:25 p.m.): There are “numerous fatalities” from a shooting at a South Florida high school on Wednesday afternoon, according to the school superintendent. “It is a horrific situation,” said Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie. Police responded after students and staff reported gunfire at about 2:30 p.m. at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., about 45 miles north of downtown Miami. The school went on lockdown, and witnesses said students streamed out of the school as SWAT team members rushed into the building. Just after 4 p.m., the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said the shooter was in custody. Law enforcement identified the shooter as Nicolas de Jesus Cruz, 19, a former student, according to the Miami Herald. The suspect managed to make it off campus but was cornered by police at a nearby townhouse. The sheriff’s office tweeted that at least 14 victims were being transported to two area hospitals, and that SWAT team members were still clearing the school. “It’s catastrophic. There really are no words,” said Sheriff Scott Israel. About 3,000 students attend the school.

Kiley Crossland Kiley is a former WORLD correspondent.

Leigh Jones

Leigh is managing editor for WORLD Radio. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate who spent six years as a newspaper reporter in Texas before joining WORLD. Leigh also co-wrote Infinite Monster: Courage, Hope, and Resurrection in the Face of One of America's Largest Hurricanes. She resides with her husband and daughter in Houston, Texas.


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