Washington, Feb 15: At least 17 students and teachers were killed as a heavily-armed 19-year-old went on a shooting spree outside and inside his former high school in Florida state in the US, authorities said. The shooter was arrested an hour later.
17 killed in Florida school shooting, ex-student arrested
The horrific violence unfolded on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, which ironically was voted Florida’s safest city last year.The gunman, armed with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, was identified as Nikolas Cruz, who had been expelled from the school for “discipliry reasons”, the New York Times reported.
He began his rampage outside the school shortly before dismissal time around 2.40 p.m. He then made his way inside and proceeded down hallways, firing at frightened students and teachers who were scurrying for cover.
Students huddled in horror in their classrooms, with some using their phones to share the massacre on social media. Footage showed sprawled bodies, screams and gunfire that began with a few shots and then seemed to go on and on.
Cruz killed 12 people inside the school and three outside, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. Two more victims succumbed in hospitals. The mass murderer was arrested at Coral Springs, a neighbouring city, about an hour after fleeing the scene, the authorities said. He had slipped out of the building by mixing in with crowds of panicky students.
Students recalled terror and confusion in the aftermath of the shooting. An English class was going on when the shooting began. The gunman had clearly prepared for the attack, Setor Bill Nelson of Florida said after speaking to the FBI, the Times said. Sheriff Israel said he did not know the gunman’s motive. He said a football coach was among the dead. Twelve of the 17 dead had been identified by Wednesday night.
Jim Gard, who was Cruz’s maths teacher at the school in 2016, said the student appeared to be a “quiet” one. He said that after the shooting, he learned from several students that Cruz was obsessed with a girl at the school to the point of stalking her, the Washington Post reported. The shooting, among the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern US history, revived debate over gun control while American politicians offered their condolences. “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,” US President Dold Trump said. (IANS)