At least 17 people, including students, were killed after a former student opened fire at a Florida high school, law enforcement officials said on Wednesday. The shooting suspect, identified as Nikolas Cruz, has been taken into custody. The FBI is assisting local officials in the investigation.
"Nikolas Cruz was the killer. He is in custody. We already began to dissect his websites and social media that he was on ... some of the things that come to mind are very, very disturbing," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters at a news conference in Florida. Cruz, 19, was a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where the shooting took place. Israel said Cruz got expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons. The suspect had countless magazines, he added.
"At this point, we believe he had one AR-15 rifle. I don't know if he had a second one," the sheriff said in response to a question. The suspect was treated and released to the police. Of the 17 dead, 12 were inside the building, two were shot dead just outside the building, one was on a street outside the school, and two people lost their lives at a hospital. Israel, however, could not confirm the number of victim students.
The school has quite a number of Indian-American students and at least one student from the community was injured in the incident. The student, a ninth grader, sustained minor injures as he was hit by splinters. He is being treated at a hospital. "This is a sad day for the country and the community. We all Indian-Americans are praying for the victims," Shekar Reddy, whose friend's son was among those injured in the mass shooting, told PTI.
Authorities said several victims were being treated in the hospital. Three of them are in critical conditions and another three in stable condition.
President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences and also called up Florida governor for :
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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2018
Just spoke to Governor Rick Scott. We are working closely with law enforcement on the terrible Florida school shooting. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2018
Florida Senator Chris Murphy termed it as "a horrific scene" playing out at a high school in South Florida. "Turn on your television right now, you're going to see scenes of children running for their lives. It's what looks to be the th school shooting in this country, and we have not even hit March," he said on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
Murphy rued at the incident, claiming it was a fallout of "our inaction".
"This happens nowhere else other than the United States of America...It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction. We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else," Murphy said.
Every day in this country, 46 children are shot, said Congressman Donald M Payne. "Every day in this country, seven children die from gun violence. Those statistics do not occur in any other high-income country on this planet," he said, urging the members of the US Congress to use their "power to make the world safer for all children."
"The motives behind the tragic shooting today remain a mystery, but one thing is certain -- the loss of innocent life at the hands of a merciless gunman is heinous and despicable," said Congressman Peter Roskam.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said another American community is reeling from the horror of gun violence, perpetrated against innocent school children. "Too many families have lost someone to the senseless epidemic of gun violence. Congress has a moral responsibility to take common-sense action to prevent the daily tragedy of gun violence in communities across America. Enough is enough," Pelosi said.
The mass shooting, which is said to be 18th school shooting of the year, seems to have rekindled a debate on the controversial gun control legislation in the US.
Since January 2013, there have been at least 291 school shootings across the country — an average of about one school shooting a week, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit group that advocates for gun control.
Since the 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were shot dead, warning procedures and emergency drills have multiplied at US schools.
The goal is to teach school children how to react to a shooter who opens fire at random. "It is pretty clear that we're failing our kids here," said Falkowski, the teacher who helped shield her students from harm in a closet. "I'm not saying the solution is one thing or another, but this does not happen in other countries the way it happens here."
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Feb 15, 2018 10:57:40 IST