Seventeen people were killed Wednesday afternoon when an expelled student returned to his Broward County, Fla., high school and opened fire with an assault rifle.
The Miami Herald reports that the attack happened just before afternoon dismissal at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Thousands of students, puzzled at the sound of a fire alarm, were launched into a panic as they heard gunfire.
As teachers and students fled hallways and hid under desks, a former student who had been expelled from school opened fire.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office says Nikolaus Cruz, 19, killed 17 teenagers and adults. Wielding an AR-15 and equipped with multiple clips, he gunned down a dozen people inside buildings on the school’s campus, two more on the grounds, and one more on the corner of Pine Island Road as he fled.
Two more died at the hospital, and 15 more were wounded, many of whom were in surgery at local hospitals.
“We received no warning," Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie said. "Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn’t have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.”
The shooter managed to make it off campus before he was cornered and taken into custody in Coral Springs.
One teacher at Douglas says Cruz had been identified as potential threat to fellow students in the past.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” says math teacher Jim Gard, who said Cruz had been in his class last year. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”
A video posted to social media showed students hiding under desks Wednesday afternoon, screaming as at least 20 gun shots rang out. Some students believed there was a second shooter at the school, but the Broward Sheriff’s Office has given no indication that was the case.
As students hid and escaped, SWAT Teams swarmed the campus. The FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force, consisting of local, state and federal agents, sent a squad to the school to assist.
Douglas High has 3,208 children in grades 9 to 12 enrolled at the school.