The gunman believed to be responsible for shooting dead at least 17 children and teachers and injuring as many as 18 others at a Florida high school has been arrested.
19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz was apprehended by local police following a short manhunt after the attack on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, north of Miami.
Police say suspect Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
According to reports 12 of the students had been killed in the school building, another two just outside the premises and one in the street, while two others are believed to have died in hospital, The Independent reports.
Cruz, who was recently expelled from the school and was enrolled in another school in the same district, was said to have ‘countless magazines’ and at least one AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Helicopter footage from the scene, which had been circulating around American media outlets, showed a man, believed to be Cruz, in a red shirt, surrounded by police officers while in handcuffs.
Broward School District Superintendent, Robert Runcie, confirmed there’ve been ‘numerous fatalities’ in a brief press statement, saying:
There are numerous fatalities. It’s a horrific situation. It’s just a horrible day for us. We have no evidence at this point there was more than one shooter.
It’s a day you pray every day you never have to see. We didn’t have any phone calls or threats that we know of that were made.
We cannot live in a world built on fear, we have do what we can to provide the greatest safety measures for our kids.
Mental health issues in this country are growing and it’s certainly something that needs to be addressed in our school system.
Despite Cruz’s expulsion from the school, the school authorities did not receive any prior warnings of the tragedy.
Superintendent Runcie told reporters outside the school: ‘Potentially there could have been signs out there, but we didn’t have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.’
The Florida shooting is now the eighteenth to take place in a US school this year – the third deadliest in American history.
On January 23, two people were killed and another 15 were shot at Marshall County High School in Kansas.
Our thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy.