Florida teen Nikolas Cruz charged with 17 counts of murder in school shooting


PARKLAND, Flor. — A former student, who opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at a Florida high school Wednesday, killing at least 17 people in the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, has been charged

19-year-old Nikolas Cruz is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He was arrested about two miles from the school shortly after the shooting and initially taken to a hospital with breathing problems. Cruz was questioned overnight and booked into the Broward County Jail early Thursday.

Cruz, 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 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…



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