Students react following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday. Pics/AFP
An expelled former student armed with a powerful assault rifle unleashed a hail of gunfire in a Florida high school, killing at least 17 people and injuring over a dozen others, including an Indian-American student, in one of the deadliest mass shootings in the US.
The 19-year-old suspect identified as Nikolas Cruz, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, who was expelled for disciplinary reasons, was arrested shortly after the deadly rampage on Wednesday.
The school has a large number of Indian-American students and at least one student from the community sustained minor injures after he was hit by splinters. The ninth grader is being treated at a hospital. Cruz was a troubled teenager who posted disturbing material on social media before the shooting spree, officials said.
"This is a terrible day for Parkland," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said, speaking of the city of about 30,000 people, located 80 kilometers north of Miami. "Nicolas 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," he told reporters at a news conference in Florida.
"He had countless magazines and at this point, we believe he had one AR-15 rifle," he said. Reports said he was also equipped with a gas mask and smoke grenades. According to investigators, Cruz pulled the fire alarm to draw people out of classrooms and increase the number of casualties, the CNN reported. But the school already had a fire drill earlier in the day, leading some to think it was a false alarm. Israel said Cruz was expelled from school for disciplinary reasons.
'Gunshine State' devastated by firearmsDubbed the 'Sunshine State', Florida is also ironically branded the 'Gunshine State', a place where firearms are easy to come by - especially for perpetrators of violence. The state, home to 21 million people, has handed out more gun permits than any other state - around 1.9 million as of January - according to official statistics.
Justin Trudeau: Sending my deepest condolences to the parents, families and friends grieving tonight in Parkland, Florida, and wishing a full recovery to the injured. Canadians have you in our hearts
Donald Trump: 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.
Britney Spears: Just heard the tragic news about Florida. My heart breaks for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Keeping the victims and their families in my thoughts.
Piers Morgan: Another horrific school shooting in America. Yet more young lives destroyed. Why is nothing EVER done to even TRY to stop it?
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