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By Terry Spencer and Kelli Kennedy
Associated Press

UPDATE 5:03 p.m. (PST):

Authorities have identified the suspect in the shooting that claimed 17 lives at a Florida high school as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office tweeted a correction with that spelling on the identity of the suspect. The office of Sheriff Scott Israel, as well as a federal official briefed on the investigation, had spelled the first name of the suspect erroneously in their previous accounts.

Israel says Cruz was arrested after the attack on a Parkland, Florida, high school and checked out at a hospital before being taken to a secure location in an unspecified public building.

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Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida says the shooter in the attack on a high school in his state wore a gas mask and had smoke grenades.

The Florida Democrat said in an interview with CNN that he was briefed on the attack by the FBI.

Nelson says the attacker “set off the fire alarm so the kids would come pouring out of the classrooms into the hall. And there the carnage began.”

Nelson says he did not know if the gunman had used the smoke grenades but he assumed that’s why he had a gas mask on.

Original story below. 

PARKLAND, Fla. — A former student opened fire at a Florida high school Wednesday as classes were being dismissed, killing at least 17 people and sending scores of students running into the streets to escape the bullets.

Frantic parents rushed to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where SWAT team members and ambulances had surrounded the campus. Live footage showed emergency workers who appeared to be treating the wounded on sidewalks.

“It is a horrific situation,” Superintendent Robert Runcie said. “It is a horrible day for us.”

The 19-year-old suspect was taken into custody without incident about an hour after he left the school, authorities said.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said the suspect, who was previously expelled for disciplinary reasons, had at least one rifle and multiple magazines.

Most of the fatalities were inside the building, though some were found fatally shot outside, the sheriff said.

The gunman was identified as Nicolas Cruz by a U.S. official briefed on the investigation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the information publicly.

The day started normally at the school, which had a morning fire drill, and students were in class around 2:30 p.m. when another alarm sounded.

Noah Parness, a 17-year-old junior, said he and the other students calmly went outside to their fire-drill areas when he suddenly heard popping sounds.

“We saw a bunch of teachers running down the stairway, and then everybody shifted and broke into a sprint,” Parness said. “I hopped a fence.”

Beth Feingold said her daughter, Brittani, sent a text at 2:32 p.m. that said, “We’re on code red. I’m fine,” but sent another text shortly afterward saying, “Mom, I’m so scared.”

Brittani later was able to escape the school, but was running along a busy road for part of the time, in what was a very chaotic scene around school — one of the state’s largest in the county with about 3,000 students.

Inside the school, students heard loud bangs as the shooter opened fire. Many of them hid under desks or in closets and barricaded doors.

Shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland

ACTIVE SHOOTER – BSO confirms there has been a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The school is currently on lockdown. Multiple victims being transported to area hospitals. LATEST: http://bit.ly/2C0lLLx

Posted by WSVN-TV on Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Live footage showed those students who fled leaving in a single-file line with their hands over their heads as officers urged them to evacuate quickly. Parents hurried to the scene.

Caesar Figueroa said when he got to the school to check on his 16-year-old daughter, he saw police officers drawing machine guns as they approached the campus.

“My wife called me that there was an active shooter, and the school was on lockdown. I got on the road and saw helicopters. … It was crazy and my daughter wasn’t answering her phone.” She finally texted him that she was inside a closet with friends.

Len Murray’s 17-year-old son, a junior at the school, sent his parents a chilling text: “Mom and Dad, there have been shots fired on campus at school. There are police sirens outside. I’m in the auditorium and the doors are locked.”

A few minutes later, he texted again: “I’m fine.”

Murray said he raced to the school only to be stopped by authorities under a highway overpass within view of the school buildings. He said he told his son to save his battery and stop texting, while the boy’s mother told him to turn off his ringer.

Authorities told parents to gather at a nearby hotel to get information.

“I’m scared for the other parents here. You can see the concern in everybody’s faces. Everybody is asking, ‘Have you heard from your child yet?'” Murray said.

Murray said he’s had just one thought running through his mind since he got his son’s text: “All I keep thinking about is when I dropped him off this morning. I usually say, ‘I love you,’ and I didn’t this morning. He’s 17, he’s at that age, and I didn’t say it this morning, and I’m just kicking myself right now over and over and over. Say it early and often, I’m telling you.”

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About The Author

Andrew joined CZ-USA after Retiring from the US Army as a Civil Affairs Team Sergeant. Deployments included both Iraq and Afghanistan. While deployed his focus was on Law Enforcement specific operations, supporting NATO and CJIATF 435. Andrew also served as a Police Officer for 5 years and has a background in logistics, project management and international affairs. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice Administration.

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