'It is a horrible day for us': Florida community mourns school shooting victims

From CBC - February 15, 2018

Just before Wednesday'sshooting, some students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., thought they were having another fire drill.

Such an exercise involved students and staff leavingtheir classrooms hours earlier. So when the alarm went off Wednesday afternoon shortly before they were to be dismissed, they once again filed out into the hallways.

According to police, that's when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets.

It'sthe deadliest shootingat an American high school, surpassing the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., where two teenagers killed 12 students and a teacher and then themselves.

It was also the second deadliest at a U.S. public school, behind the 2012 shooting of 20 studentsand six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., by a gunman who also killed his mother and himself.

"Our district is in a tremendous state of grief and sorrow," said Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district in Parkland, about an hour's drive north of Miami. "It is a horrible day for us."

Authorities offered no immediate details about Cruz or his possible motive, except to say he had been kicked out of the high school, which has about 3,000 students. Students who knew him described a volatile teenager whose strange behaviour had caused others to end friendships with him.

Cruz was taken into custody without a fight about an hour after the shooting in a residential neighbourhood about 1.5 kilometresaway. He had multiple magazines of ammunition, authorities said.

"It's catastrophic. There really are no words," said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

Frantic parents rushed to the school to find SWAT team members and ambulances surrounding the huge campus and emergency workers who appeared to be treating the wounded on sidewalks. Students who had not run began leaving in a single-file line with their hands over their heads as officers urged them to evacuate quickly.

Hearing loud bangs as gunfire went off, many of the students inside hid under desks or in closets, and barricaded doors.

'I thought maybe I could die'

"We were in the corner, away from the windows," said freshman Max Charles, who said he heard five gunshots. "The teacher locked the door and turned off the light. I thought maybe I could die or something."

Fire-alarm pulled

'All I heard was "Get on the ground! Get on the ground!"' - Michael Nembhard, local resident


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