At least 17 dead in ‘horrific’ Florida school shooting, suspect had ‘countless magazines’

Students being evacuated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida (Photo: WPLG via ABC News)

PARKLAND, Fla. (ABC/WTNH) —A gunman opened fire at a South Florida high school today, killing 17 people and sending students running for their lives, according to law enforcement officers on the scene.

— 17 victims were transported to Broward Health Coral Springs, Broward Health North, Broward Health Medical Center and Boca West Medical Center. Two of the 17 victims who were transported died at the hospital; 15 victims died at the scene. Victims include students and adults, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said.

— The suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was taken into custody off campus. He slipped out of the school after the shooting by blending in with other students who were trying to escape, according to two law enforcement sources and an eyewitness.

— Cruz had “countless magazines” and was believed to have an AR-15 rifle, the sheriff said.

— The sheriff said Cruz had attended the school but was expelled for disciplinary reasons.

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— Students were seen sprinting out of the school with their hands up as authorities with guns drawn swarmed the area. Other students were seen lined up one by one, leaving the area in an orderly fashion. Some students were hysterical, reported ABC affiliate WPLG (http://bit.ly/2oV0REr).

“Then also I hear, ‘Boom, boom, boom.’ I hear screaming everywhere,” he said. “I just got underneath my teacher’s desk.”

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PHOTO: Women embrace in a waiting area for parents of students after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018.
Women embrace in a waiting area for parents of students after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018. (Photo: Joel Auerbach/AP via ABC News)

Student Michael Katz told ABC News that at the end of the day he “heard what sounded like a garbage truck like banging.”

“Then also I hear, ‘Boom, boom, boom.’ I hear screaming everywhere,” he said. “I just got underneath my teacher’s desk.”

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“We had police invade the school, and we were taken out,” Katz said. “Fortunately, my father was there to pick me up.”.

PHOTO: People emerge from a building with their hands raised after reports of a shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018.
People emerge from a building with their hands raised after reports of a shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018. (Photo: WPLG via ABC News)
PHOTO: People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school on Feb. 14, 2018 in Parkland, Fla.
People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school on Feb. 14, 2018 in Parkland, Fla. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images via ABC News)

 

One mother shaking with worry told WPLG her daughter said she was OK, huddled in a locked classroom.

“She’s terrified,” the mother said. “I’m glad that she’s able to text.”

Freshman student Samuel Dykes told the Orlando Sentinel that he was on the third floor of the school when he heard gunshots.

Officers told students to look forward as they evacuated, but Dykes told the newspaper that he saw several bodies in a classroom.

PHOTO: Family members embrace following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.
Family members embrace following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. (Photo: Wilfredo Lee/AP via ABC News)
PHOTO: Students released from a lockdown embrace following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018.
Students released from a lockdown embrace following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018. (Photo: John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/AP via ABC News)

Another mother told the affiliate that her daughter “keeps telling me to stay away. ‘Be safe, Mom, stay away.'”

“I won’t stay away,” she said, telling her daughter, “I’m your mother.”

PHOTO: Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., is escorted out of a hospital and into a police car.
Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., is escorted out of a hospital and into a police car. (Photo: WPLG via ABC News)

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel called it a “horrific homicidal act.”

Investigators are probing Cruz’s social media accounts for clues, the sheriff said, calling some of the things posted “very disturbing.”

“If you see something, say something,” Israel said at a news conference earlier today. “If anybody has any indicator that someone’s going through a behavioral change, on social media if there are disturbing photos, perhaps bombs or firearms or just videos or pictures that are just not right, please make sure law enforcement knows about it.”

On Wednesday evening, a large law enforcement presence consisting of both the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office was spotted at the Lantana Cascade Mobile Home Park in Lake Worth. WPBF (http://bit.ly/2EukI3W) reported it may be related to the school shooting.

Israel said this evening officials were still working to identify the victims. He said a football coach was among the dead.

Pierre Jospitre said he was pulling into his driveway from work when he saw the suspect on the ground with an official on top of him.

Within seconds, several law enforcement officers swarmed the area, Jospitre said, adding that when the suspect was picked up off the ground, he was vomiting and was not walking right.

The school will be closed for the rest of the week, Broward County Public Schools announced Wednesday night. There are over 3,000 students at the school, according to its website. Broward County Public Schools superintendent said grief counselors would be available.

President Donald Trump tweeted, “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”

Connecticut Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal shared their statements on the tragedy:

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy released a statement following the shooting, which reads, in part:

Our hearts break for the lives cut short and for the families who have been robbed of a loved one. The injured remain in our thoughts, as do the heroic first responders. While we don’t know all the details of this horrific event, this is act of carnage is all too familiar. This is the 18th school shooting in the 45 days of 2018. That’s not acceptable.”

The West Haven Police Department released the following statement Thursday morning on Facebook in regards to the tragedy:

West Haven Police Department like you, obviously share our sadness by what occurred in Parkland Florida yesterday. We understand that parents, staff and students are concerned after seeing the tragic news from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School so are we. As your Police Department we work with West Haven School Officials, West Haven School Security Officers, our School Resource Officers and you in providing the safest environment possible for our students and staff at all of our schools. School Resource Officers and our Patrol Division Officers continue to have a high visible presence in and around our schools. We continually train and drill with staff, students and emergency personnel for these egregious acts. Your part as a parent is to make sure your children understand that seeing something or hearing something alarming needs to be reported immediately. School Resource Officers are stationed at our schools, to instruct, educate and build relationships between the police and our kids. Most of all they are there to protect our children and staff. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the victims and the families impacted by yesterdays tragedy.