A gunman set off fire alarms at a Florida high school Wednesday afternoon, luring hundreds of students out of their classrooms so he could open fire with a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle.
After firing several rounds, the shooting suspect, identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, dropped his weapon and hid among the crowd as authorities evacuated students and faculty members from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Police captured Cruz over an hour later in Coral Springs, located about a mile away. He was taken to a local hospital and then released into police custody.
At least 17 people were killed and several others were wounded in the shooting, officials said. Cruz was charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Below is a timeline of events that detail how the shooting unfolded.
At least 17 people were killed during the shooting at the Florida high school. (AP)
Wednesday, Feb. 14
An Uber car dropped off Cruz at the school at approximately 2:19 P.M., Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel revealed at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
“The suspect entered the east stairwell, that’s building 12, with a rifle inside a black soft case,” he said. “The suspect exited the stairwell [and] pulled the rifle out of the case.”
Cruz, according to Israel, then “readied his rifle and began shooting into rooms 1215, 1216, 1214. He went back to 1216, back to 1215 and then to 1213.”
Cruz, he revealed, “took the west stairwell to the second floor,” where he shot one person in room 1234. The gunfire lasted a three-minute span, according to the sheriff.
Israel said Cruz “took the east stairwell to the third floor. He dropped his rifle and backpack [and] ran down the stairs.”
Cruz eventually left the building with others who were trying to escape. He ran towards the tennis courts and then took a southbound turn, the sheriff said.
After the shooting, Cruz went to a Walmart and purchased a drink at a Subway before leaving the Walmart, according to Israel, though he couldn’t give an exact time this occurred. Cruz then headed to a McDonald’s and “sat down for a short period of time.”
Students were allegedly texting about a shooter at the school.
Deputies responded to reports of a shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a tweet.
WSVN, a local news station, reported that there were at least five people injured at the school.
The sheriff’s office warned the public to “avoid the area of Stoneman Douglas HS” as authorities investigated reports of an active shooter.
Cruz left McDonald’s at exactly 3:01 p.m., according to Israel.
A student shared a photo to Twitter to show where he and other students were hiding.
The sheriff’s office tweeted the shooter was still at large.
Broward Schools said the school was on lockdown after students and faculty heard what sounded like gunfire.
Broward Schools began dismissing students from the school.
“We are receiving reports of possible multiple injuries,” the school district tweeted. “Law enforcement and the District’s Special Investigative Unit are currently on site.”
A Coconut Creek police officer detained Cruz in Coral Springs, located about a mile away from the school, and he was “taken into custody without incident,” Israel said.
President Trump tweets about the shooting, offering his “prayers and condolences.”
The shooter was taken into custody, the sheriff’s office confirmed in a tweet, warning that the scene was still active.
The sheriff’s office tweeted there were at least 14 “victims,” who “have been and continue to be transported to Broward Health Medical Center and Broward Health North hospital.”
The suspected shooter was taken to a local hospital.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said there were “a number of fatalities.”
Israel confirmed the shooter was not a current student at Stoneman Douglas High School.
In a separate tweet, the sheriff’s office said that SWAT teams were still clearing the school.
Students began to reunite with their parents.
Sheriff Israel said 17 people were killed in the shooting.
The sheriff’s office identified the shooting suspect as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.
A local news reporter for WSVN tweeted a photo of the suspect being detained by police.
Thursday, Feb. 15
Trump urges the public to always report suspicious behavior to authorities.
“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem,” Trump tweeted. “Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”
Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, Israel announced in a news conference.
Trump addressed the nation, describing the incident as a “scene of terrible violence, hatred, and evil.”
He vowed to work with state and local leaders to help “secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”
Cruz appeared in court on 17 counts of murder. The judge ordered him to be held without bond.
Cruz confessed to arriving at the high school with an AR-15 rifle and a back pack of “additional loaded magazines” and told authorities he shot “students that he saw in the hallways and on school grounds,” according to an arrest affidavit filed Thursday evening.
Fox News’ Shira Bush and Kathleen Joyce contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.
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