Netizen 24 IND: US: 19-year-old ex-student kills 17 in shooting spree at Florida high school

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US: 19-year-old ex-student kills 17 in shooting spree at Florida high school

US: 19-year-old ex-student kills 17 in shooting spree at Florida high school

The violence erupted shortly before dismissal at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a placid, middle-class community about 72km north of Miami. Television footage showed students streaming out of the building, many with hands raised in the air, as dozens of police and emergency services personnel swarmed the area.

world Updated: Feb 15, 2018 10:43 IST Yashwant Raj Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington Waiting for word from students, anxious family members gather at Coral Springs Drive and the Sawgrass Expressway, just south of the campus, following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Waiting for word from students, anxious family members gather at Coral Springs Drive and the Sawgrass Expressway, just south of the campus, following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.(AP Photo)

A 19-year-old former student gunned down at least 17 people, including students and staff, and injured 15 in a Florida high school on Wednesday afternoon, officials said, in yet another mass shooting in the United States.

The assailant was identified as Nikolas Cruz, who was expelled a year ago for unspecified disciplinary problems. Investigators said he carried an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle used in several mass shootings, and multiple magazines.

“This is catastrophic… There really are no words,” sheriff Scott Israel, whose children went to the same school, said.

The shooting took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland city, a middle-class community about 72km north of Miami, at around 2.30pm, just minutes before the close of school.

Read:For gun control, Trump must focus on socio-economic challenges of poor Whites

Witnesses and local leaders briefed by investigators indicated the assailant had planned the shooting meticulously with the intention to maximise casualties. He came wearing a gas mask and was carrying smoke grenades.

He set off the fire alarm to draw students into the hallway and waited for them at the entrance with the semi-automatic gun.

Rescue workers prepare to transport a victim on a stretcher near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following a shooting incident in Parkland, Florida, US. (Reuters)

“People were halfway down the stairwell, it just stopped, the alarm stopped,” a student identified only by her first name, Alex, told a CNN affiliate station. “And we heard gunshots coming from the first floor, the second floor and people were running upstairs. We all got upstairs and into our classroom. As (my teacher) was closing the door he was actually shot and killed right there. The door was left open the whole time so as (the shooter) walked by, the door was open. He could have walked in at any time.”

Most of the victims â€" at last 12 of them -- were shot inside the school building. Two were killed outside and the last one further away as the assailant tried to flee. The gunman was arrested not too far from the school and was said to be cooperating with investig ators.

“It’s a day that you pray every day when you get up that you will never have to see. It is in front of us. I ask the community for prayers and their support for the children and their families,” Robert Runcie, superintendent of Broward county schools told reporters near the school. Parkland falls in Broward county.

“We received no warning. Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn’t have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.”

But a teacher at the school told the Miami Herald newspaper that Cruz had been identified as a potential threat to fellow students in the past and that the school authorities had sent out an email warning teachers about him.

“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” Jim Gard, the teacher, was quoted. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave the campus.”

The rampage would be counted among the most horrific school shootings in US history, eclipsed only by the massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut’s Newtown in 2012 in which 26 people, included 20 first graders aged six to seven years, were killed.

The Florida massacre was the 30th mass shooting -- any gun-related violent incident that leaves four or more people dead or wounded -- in the US this year alone.

In 2017, 346 incidents were reported against 383 a year before, according to gun-violence trackers, who also said 2018 has already seen 17 school shootings.

Gun rights and easy access to firearms will be fiercely debated over the next few days, as it happens after every mass shooting, before the powerful gun lobby spearheaded by the National Rifle Association would hit back deploying its cliched defence, blaming it all on mental health.

A defender of gun rights, President Donald Trump steered clear of the debate, which had already started, and tweeted, “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.”

Source: Google News

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