Florida School Shooting: 17 Killed After Ex-Student Opens Fire
Live television showed dozens of students running and walking away from the school, weaving their way between large numbers of emergency vehicles including police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.
Live television showed dozens of students running and walking away from the school, weaving their way between large numbers of emergency vehicles including police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.(Photo Courtesy: Screengrab/Twitter Video)

Florida School Shooting: 17 Killed After Ex-Student Opens Fire

A 19-year-old gunman returned to a Florida high school where he had once been expelled for disciplinary reasons, and opened fire with an assault-style rifle on Wednesday. He murdered 17 people and injured more than a dozen others before he was arrested, authorities said.

The attack began shortly before dismissal at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a placid, middle-class community about 45 miles (72 km) north of Miami. Television footage showed students streaming out of the building, many with hands raised in the air, as dozens of police and emergency services personnel swarmed the area.

The gunman was identified as Nikolas Cruz, who previously attended the school and was expelled for unspecified disciplinary reasons, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news briefing hours later.

As a high school freshman, Cruz was part of the US military-sponsored Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corp program at the school, according to Jillian Davis, 19, a recent graduate and former fellow JROTC member at Stoneman Douglas High.

Broward Country Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie told reporters the school district had gotten no warning of a potential shooter and that there was no evidence of more than one shooter.

FBI Admits It Failed to Act Against Gunman Despite Being Warned Against Him

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday said it mishandled a January tip that the 19-year-old accused of killing 17 people in Florida had guns and the potential to carry out a school shooting.

A person close to accused gunman Nikolas Cruz called an FBI tip line on 5 January to report concerns about him, the FBI said in a statement.

"The caller provided information about Cruz's gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting," it said.

The tip appeared unrelated to a previously reported YouTube comment in which a person named Nikolas Cruz said, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter." The FBI has acknowledged getting that tip as well but failing to connect it to Cruz, who is accused of carrying out the massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida on Wednesday with an AR-15-style assault rifle.

"Under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life," the FBI said in its statement. "The information then should have been forwarded to the FBI Miami field office, where appropriate investigative steps would have been taken. We have determined that these protocols were not followed."

Florida Governor Rick Scott said FBI Director Christopher Wray should step down over the agency's mishandling of the tip.

“The FBI’s failure to take action against this killer is unacceptable," Scott said in a statement. "We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act."

The sheriff of Broward County where the shootings took place said in a Friday press conference that authorities had received around 20 "calls for service" in the last few years regarding Cruz.

The sheriff, Scott Israel, said not all of the calls had resulted in the dispatch of law enforcement officers but added that his office would scrutinize them all to see if they were properly handled.

Suspect Might Be a Part of White Nationalist Militia, Leader Says

Cruz's court-appointed lawyer said he had expressed remorse for his crimes.

"He's a broken human being," public defender Melisa McNeill told reporters. "He's sad, he's mournful he's remorseful."

Cruz had done paramilitary training with a white nationalist militia called the Republic of Florida, a leader of the group said.

“He had some involvement with the Clearwater Republic of Florida cell at some point,” Jordan Jereb said in a telephone interview. Reuters could not immediately verify the claim.

No One Should Feel Unsafe in an American School: Trump

"My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting," US President Donald Trump said on Twitter. "No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school."

Florida Governor Rick Scott said on Twitter that had he had been in touch with local officials about the incident.

Students Hid In Classrooms Until Rescued

Students hid in classrooms until they were rescued by police in tactical gear, friends and family members said.

McKenzie Hartley, 19, who identified herself as the sister of a student at the school described the scene in a text message to Reuters: "She heard him shooting through the windows of classrooms and two students were shot."

Panicked parents checked on their children.

"It is just absolutely horrifying. I can't believe this is happening," Lissette Rozenblat, whose daughter goes to the school, told CNN. Her daughter called her to say she was safe but the student also told her mother she heard the cries of a person who was shot.

"She was very nervous. She said that she could hear the person who was shot crying out for help," she told CNN. "My daughter is safe and I am very grateful."

Live television showed dozens of students, weaving their way between law enforcement officers with heavy weapons and helmets, and large numbers of emergency vehicles including police cars, ambulances and fire trucks.

The shooting was the latest in a deadly series of attacks at US schools. A 15-year-old gunman in January killed two students at a Benton, Kentucky high school.

The school had recently held a meeting to discuss what to do in such an attack, Ryan Gott, a 15-year-old freshman told CNN.

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