A shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, killed at least 17 people, stunning the town and much of the nation, as investigators raced to find a possible motive behind the bloodbath.
The suspect was identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who’d been expelled for disciplinary reasons, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed during an evening news conference.
Sen. Bill Nelson told Fox News that Cruz was wearing a gas mask and may have had smoke bombs during the rampage.
The school was under lockdown as police rushed to the scene during the afternoon.
During an evening news conference, Israel said one of the deceased victims was a football coach at the high school although their name was not provided. Israel said a sheriff’s deputy’s son was also shot in the arm and was being treated for non-life threatening injuries.
“This is just absolutely pure evil,” Governor Rick Scott said of the incident.
Cruz was seen wearing a maroon shirt as police led him off to a squad car. Video provided to WSVN appeared to show officers cuffing the suspect in the grass.
CNN’s Don Lemon on the shooting at a high school in Florida: “This is a sickness that has infected this country. … This is who we are right now, but is this really who we want to be?” https://t.co/QYQD3UXjKi https://t.co/YsiVbF5ptD
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) February 15, 2018
Of the 17 people killed, 12 of them died in the school, two were killed outside, one died on the street and another two died at the hospital, Israel said. He added that 15 people were transported to the hospital.
The suspect carried an AR-15 rifle and had “countless magazines,” the sheriff said.
According to CBS12, a Palm Beach County Sherriff’s Department bomb squad was seen at a “mobile home park west of Lantana,” which is 30 miles north of Parkland. Its reportedly connected to the high school shooting and authorities were “preparing to serve search warrant.”
The shooting is the third deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history to take place within the past five months.
It’s also the 25th fatal shooting at a U.S. elementary, middle or high school since — and including — Columbine in 1999.