Florida school shooting suspect charged with murder
A 19-year-old with a history of distressing behavior was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder Thursday morning after a school shooting rampage in Florida.
Fourteen were wounded in the attack Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, about an hour north of Miami.
It was the deadliest school shooting in the United States in five years and the eighth school shooting this year.
Nikolas Cruz, who had been expelled from the school, was to be held without bond and booked into jail.
According to a police report, Cruz confessed to the shooting and had extra ammunition in his backpack.
“Our district is in a tremendous state of grief and sorrow,” Robert Runcie, superintendent of the school district, said.
“It is a horrible day for us.”
Police said Cruz, who had a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire after a fire alarm went off, and students spilled from classrooms.
Cruz has been accused of firing a semi-automatic weapon at the crowd of teenagers and adults.
About 3,000 students attend the school.
Cruz was arrested in another county a hour after the killings. Authorities said he was carrying ammunition but did not put up a struggle when they took him into custody.
Teens who knew him said Cruz’s weird behavior had caused others to drop him as a friend.
A former classmate, Trevor Hart, told the Orlando Sun Sentinel, that Cruz seemed “a little off.”
Cruz’s mother Lynda Cruz died of pneumonia Nov. 1 neighbors, friends and family members said, the newspaper reported.
Cruz and her husband, who died of a heart attack several years ago, adopted Nikolas and his biological brother, Zachary, after the couple moved from Long Island, New York to Broward County.
The boys were left in the care of a family friend after their mother died, family member Barbara Kumbatovich, of Long Island, said.
Unhappy there, Nikolas Cruz asked to move in with a friend’s family back in Florida. The family agreed and Cruz returned around Thanksgiving.
According to the family’s lawyer, who did not identify them, they knew that Cruz owned the AR-15 but made him keep it in a locked cabinet.
The family’s attorney, Jim Lewis, said the family didn’t see this coming.
Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old junior at the school, said Cruz was expelled last school year for fighting with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend.
“I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him,” she said.
Most of the fatalities were inside the building, though some victims were found fatally shot outside, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.
“It’s catastrophic. There really are no words,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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