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LAST_UPDATESat, 23 Jun 2018 4pm

Florida School Shooting: 17 Reported Dead

Pic: NY TimesPic: NY Times

PARKLAND, Fla.: Seventeen people were killed in a shooting on Wednesday afternoon at a high school about an hour northwest of Miami, law enforcement officials said. The dead included adults and students.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said the suspect is in custody.

“This is catastrophic,” he said. “There really are no words.”

A federal official said the gunman had been identified as Nicolas Cruz, 19. The sheriff said the gunman was a former student. He was arrested in Coral Springs, a neighboring city, about an hour after leaving the school.

The gunman was armed with a semiautomatic AR-15 assault rifle, Sheriff Israel said, and “countless magazines.”

Students ran out of the school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, holding on to each other, as law enforcement officers swarmed the building armed with military-grade weapons. Parents rushed to the area to be reunited with their children.

Videos said to have been circulated from inside the school captured images of students huddled on classroom floors and the sound of gunfire like that from a semiautomatic firearm.

I used to be scared in school because there were bullies who threatened to beat you up. Mean girls. But I never worried about getting shot....

Senator Bill Nelson told MSNBC there were multiple fatalities. Two hospitals, Broward Health North in Pompano Beach and Broward Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, received multiple patients, according to Jennifer Smith, a spokeswoman.

“There are numerous fatalities. It is a horrific situation,” Robert W. Runcie, the Broward schools superintendent, told CNN. “It is a horrible day for us.”

The authorities asked residents of the city of Parkland to avoid the area around the school.

Students and staff “heard what sounded like gunfire” near dismissal time around 2:40 p.m., according to the Broward school district.

“The school immediately went on lockdown but is now dismissing students,” the district wrote on Twitter. “We are receiving reports of possible multiple injuries.”

Dianna Milleret, 16, a 10th grader, heard the gunshots. “It was several loud sounds. I tried to stay calm. Students were running everywhere,” she said, on a street two blocks from the school.

Noelle Kaiser, 17, was in history class when the alarm went off on Wednesday afternoon. The class was gathered just outside the building when she heard three distinct gunshots.

“I am in shock,” she said softly after clutching her mother, Cheryl Kaiser, on the sidewalk. Ms. Kaiser had rushed from work in Delray Beach.

Noelle called her mother from outside, near the edge of the campus, to let her know she was safe around 2:50 p.m. “I was still so scared because the person had not been caught yet,” she said.

Parkland, an affluent suburb of Fort Lauderdale with a population of about 30,000, is known for its good public schools. Douglas High is among the largest in the Broward school district, with about 3,000 students.

“My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting,” President Trump wrote on Twitter. “No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”

Mr. Trump has spoken to Gov. Rick Scott, said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. The governor’s office said Mr. Scott is heading to the school.

- NY Times