A gunman has opened fire at a high school near Miami in South Florida, killing at least 17 people and injuring more than a dozen others, local and federal officials say. A suspect was taken into custody after fleeing the scene.
The incident began just after 2:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday when officers were called to reports of shots being fired at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which is located near Pompano Beach, about 34 miles (55 kilometers) north of Miami.
According to officials, the suspect, who was armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, pulled a fire alarm and opened fire as hundreds of students walked into the hallway. The shooter was also using smoke grenades, according to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.
A large number of police officers, including SWAT teams, responded to the scene as the school was put on lockdown, officials said. Students and teachers barricaded themselves in classrooms while others were evacuated by police while holding their hands in the air.
The suspect, who is believed to have been wearing a gas mask, was able to flee the scene. He was taken into custody about an hour after the shooting when police officers spotted him down the street, about 1.5 mile (2.4 kilometers) from the school.
Authorities identified the suspect as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who was expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons, according to the sheriff’s office. Photos on Instagram showed Cruz holding a handgun and knives. He also expressed an interest in buying a shotgun.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said 17 people were killed in the shooting, including at least 12 students. “This is an unbelievably catastrophic day in Broward County history,” he said. “It’s devastating. I’m sick to my stomach.”
Health officials said 14 people were injured, including 5 people who remained in a critical condition on Wednesday evening.
There was no immediate word on a possible motive, but officials were investigating the suspect’s online activities. Federal law enforcement, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), are taking part in the investigation.
“My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting,” President Donald Trump, who was briefed about the shooting, said in a tweet. “No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”
Three of the 8 deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history have all taken place within the last 5 months, killing 103 people and injuring 882 others. The deadliest shooting happened in October when a gunman opened fire on the Las Vegas Strip.
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