Florida gunman pictured in first mugshot

by 15/02/2018 11:21:00 0 comments 1 Views
  • Nikolas Cruz, 19, was transferred to county jail Thursday morning after being questioned overnight in connection to Wednesday's deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida
  • He was booked on 17 counts of premeditated murder, charges that could get him the death penalty 
  • The orphaned teen is due in court for an arraignment at 2pm Thursday
  • Details are beginning to surface about Cruz, whose adoptive mother died in November from pneumonia 
  • Cruz was kicked out of the the high school last year for allegedly getting into a fight
  • A man also reported Cruz to the FBI last year for writing an online post saying he was going to be a shooter 
  • When gunfire rang out Wednesday afternoon, several students said they knew the gunman would be Cruz
  • Many pointed to Cruz's disturbing social media,where he allegedly posted pictures of animals he killed
  • President Trump said in a tweet Thursday morning that there were signs that the shooter was 'mentally disturbed' - and entreated Americans to report similar people to the authorities

By Associated Press and Ashley Collman For Dailymail.com and Martin Gould In Lake Worth, Florida For Dailymail.com

Published: 01:03 EST, 15 February 2018 | Updated: 11:21 EST, 15 February 2018

The teen gunman who shot 17 people at a Florida high school on Wednesday was still dressed in his hospital uniform when he left the Broward County Sheriff's Office early Thursday morning, after a night of questioning.  

Nikolas Cruz, 19, was transferred to the county jail this morning where he will wait until his first court hearing scheduled for 2pm. He is set to be arraigned on 17 counts of premeditated murder - charges that in Florida, could result in the death penalty if he is convicted.  

Details are starting to emerge about the shooter, who recently was orphaned, stopped getting mental health treatment about a year ago and owned his own AR-15 rifle.  

Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School painted the picture of a weird and disturbed teen who sold knives out of a lunchbox and was finally kicked out of school for fighting and carrying bullets in his backpack.  

It also appears that the FBI missed out on an opportunity to intervene before the shooting, when a bail bondsman in Mississippi last year alerted the feds about an alarming online message Cruz wrote saying he was 'going to be a professional school shooter'. 

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This photo provided by the Broward County Jail shows Nikolas Cruz, the teen suspected of killing 17 and injuring more than a dozen in a school shooting on Wednesday in Florida
This photo provided by the Broward County Jail shows Nikolas Cruz, the teen suspected of killing 17 and injuring more than a dozen in a school shooting on Wednesday in Florida

This photo provided by the Broward County Jail shows Nikolas Cruz, the teen suspected of killing 17 and injuring more than a dozen in a school shooting on Wednesday in Florida

Cruz was dressed in a hospital uniform as he was seen leaving the Broward County Sheriff's Office early Thursday morning 

Cruz will wait at the county jail until later Thursday, when he's expected to make his first court appearance
Cruz will wait at the county jail until later Thursday, when he's expected to make his first court appearance

Cruz will wait at the county jail until later Thursday, when he's expected to make his first court appearance

President Trump said in a tweet Thursday morning that there were signs that the shooter was 'mentally disturbed' - and entreated Americans to report similar people to the authorities
President Trump said in a tweet Thursday morning that there were signs that the shooter was 'mentally disturbed' - and entreated Americans to report similar people to the authorities

President Trump said in a tweet Thursday morning that there were signs that the shooter was 'mentally disturbed' - and entreated Americans to report similar people to the authorities

Ben Bennight says he alerted the FBI to a comment shared by Cruz on one of his YouTube videos back in September. He says the FBI was quick to respond to the concerning statement, arriving at his office the very next day to find out if he knew anything about the young man. 

He didn't hear from the FBI again until after the shooting on Wednesday. At a press conference Thursday morning, an FBI official said they followed up on the report but were 'unable to further identify the person who made the comment'.

Broward County Mayor Beam Furr also revealed that Cruz had been getting treatment at a mental health clinic for a while, but hadn't been back to the clinic in more than a year.

'It wasn’t like there wasn’t concern for him,' Furr told CNN. 'We try to keep our eyes out on those kids who aren’t connected. … In this case we didn’t find a way to connect with this kid.'

Authorities offered no immediate details about Cruz or his possible motive, except to say that he had been kicked out of the high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which has about 3,000 students.

Authorities quickly started dissecting the shooter's social media accounts in a bid to piece together the motive. Sheriff Israel reported that some of things the shooter had been posting was 'very disturbing'.

In one Instragram post, Cruz posted a screengrab of Google search results for 'what does allahu akbar' mean. Allahu Akbar means 'God is great' in Arabic, and is something Islamist terrorist often shout before attacks.

He captioned the photo: 'Well at least we know what it means when a sand durka [a racial expletive for an Arab person] says "allahu akbar" [laughing face emojis].'

Students who knew him described a volatile teenager whose strange behavior had caused others to end friendships with him.

Cruz's mother Lynda Cruz died of pneumonia on November 1 neighbors, friends and family members said, according to the Sun Sentinel . 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 in New York to Broward County. Nikolas was an infant when he was adopted, and his adoptive mother was allegedly the only person he was close with. 

Cruz's Instagram is filled with disturbing posts of what appears to be himself showing off weapons, his face sometimes covered, along with other disturbing images and captions
Cruz's Instagram is filled with disturbing posts of what appears to be himself showing off weapons, his face sometimes covered, along with other disturbing images and captions

Cruz's Instagram is filled with disturbing posts of what appears to be himself showing off weapons, his face sometimes covered, along with other disturbing images and captions

In one Instragram post, Cruz posted a screengrab of Google search results for 'what does allahu akbar' mean. Allahu Akbar means 'God is great' in Arabic, and is something Islamist terrorist often shout before attacks. He captioned the photo: 'Well at least we know what it means when a [racial lslur] says "allahu akbar" [laughing face emojis].'
In one Instragram post, Cruz posted a screengrab of Google search results for 'what does allahu akbar' mean. Allahu Akbar means 'God is great' in Arabic, and is something Islamist terrorist often shout before attacks. He captioned the photo: 'Well at least we know what it means when a [racial lslur] says "allahu akbar" [laughing face emojis].'

In one Instragram post, Cruz posted a screengrab of Google search results for 'what does allahu akbar' mean. Allahu Akbar means 'God is great' in Arabic, and is something Islamist terrorist often shout before attacks. He captioned the photo: 'Well at least we know what it means when a [racial lslur] says "allahu akbar" [laughing face emojis].'

'Lynda was very close to them,' her sister-in-law Barbara Kumbatovic told The Washington Post. 'She put a lot of time and effort into those boys, trying to give them a good life and upbringing.'

While his brother was quiet and liked to stay indoors, Nikolas constantly got into trouble and appeared to have 'emotional issues'. 

'Lynda dealt with it like most parents did. She was probably too good to him,' Kumbatovic said. 'She was a lovely woman. She was a hard-working woman. She made a beautiful home for them. She put a lot of effort and time into their schooling, their recreation, whatever they needed. She was a good parent. And she went over and above because she needed to compensate for being a single parent.'

She added: 'I don’t think it had anything to do with his upbringing. It could have been the loss of his mom. I don’t know.'

The boys were left in the care of a family friend after their mother died, Kumbatovich said.

The White House flag was lowered to half-staff on Thursday in remembrance of the victims who died in the shooting on Wednesday
The White House flag was lowered to half-staff on Thursday in remembrance of the victims who died in the shooting on Wednesday

The White House flag was lowered to half-staff on Thursday in remembrance of the victims who died in the shooting on Wednesday

The shooting was the 30th mass shooting of the year, a fact that has propelled many, including Kim Kardashian, to demand Congress enact stricter gun control laws
The shooting was the 30th mass shooting of the year, a fact that has propelled many, including Kim Kardashian, to demand Congress enact stricter gun control laws

The shooting was the 30th mass shooting of the year, a fact that has propelled many, including Kim Kardashian, to demand Congress enact stricter gun control laws

A group of police officers stand guard in front of the entrance of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, on Thursday 
A group of police officers stand guard in front of the entrance of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, on Thursday 

A group of police officers stand guard in front of the entrance of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, on Thursday 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to reporters at a Thursday morning press conference about the shooter
Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to reporters at a Thursday morning press conference about the shooter

Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to reporters at a Thursday morning press conference about the shooter

Classes for the rest of the week have been cancelled at the school in Parkland, Florida (pictured above on Thursday)
Classes for the rest of the week have been cancelled at the school in Parkland, Florida (pictured above on Thursday)

Classes for the rest of the week have been cancelled at the school in Parkland, Florida (pictured above on Thursday)

There continued to be a police presence on the campus on Thursday. Investigators were no doubt continuing to comb the scene for clues
There continued to be a police presence on the campus on Thursday. Investigators were no doubt continuing to comb the scene for clues

There continued to be a police presence on the campus on Thursday. Investigators were no doubt continuing to comb the scene for clues

Pictured above is the  Broward County jail where Cruz was brought Thursday morning 
Pictured above is the  Broward County jail where Cruz was brought Thursday morning 

Pictured above is the  Broward County jail where Cruz was brought Thursday morning 

Cruz will be held at the jail until his hearing scheduled for later Thursday. Above, another view of the jail 
Cruz will be held at the jail until his hearing scheduled for later Thursday. Above, another view of the jail 

Cruz will be held at the jail until his hearing scheduled for later Thursday. Above, another view of the jail 

Unhappy there, Cruz asked to move in with a friend's home in a mobile home park in northwest Broward. The family agreed and Cruz moved into his own room in the home around Thanksgiving. 

'The family brought him into their home,' Lewis said. 'They got him a job at a local dollar store. They didn’t see anything that would suggest any violence. He was depressed, maybe a little quirky. But they never saw anything violent. … He was just a little depressed and seemed to be working through it.' 

Cruz brought his AR-15 with him to the family's home, where it was kept in a locked cabinet that the teen had a key to. Sources told CNN that the gunman purchased the rifle in the past year and passed a required background check to obtain it. Federal law allows people 18 and over to legally purchase long guns. At 21, people can legally buy handguns from a licensed dealer.

While living with the family, Lewis started going to a school for at-risk youth. Usually every morning, the father of the family would drive Cruz to school, but on Wednesday he overslept and then gave a cryptic reason why.  

'He said, "It’s Valentine’s Day and I don’t go to school on Valentine’s Day,"' Lewis said.  

Lewis said the family is devastated and didn't see this coming. They are cooperating with authorities, he said. 

The family's cream-colored home was empty Thursday morning but in the backyard a bullet-riddled Bud Light can was stuck on a twig of an avocado tree overlooking a creek.

Pictured above is the mobile home where Cruz had been staying with a friend's family before the shooting 
Pictured above is the mobile home where Cruz had been staying with a friend's family before the shooting 

Pictured above is the mobile home where Cruz had been staying with a friend's family before the shooting 

In the backyard of the home, beer cans and plates were set up as shooting targets 

The backyard of the home on Easter Cay Way is littered with garden furniture and toys. Eerily, a Hot Wheels toy in a container is still beeping. A tan Kia Soul stands in the driveway
The backyard of the home on Easter Cay Way is littered with garden furniture and toys. Eerily, a Hot Wheels toy in a container is still beeping. A tan Kia Soul stands in the driveway

The backyard of the home on Easter Cay Way is littered with garden furniture and toys. Eerily, a Hot Wheels toy in a container is still beeping. A tan Kia Soul stands in the driveway

Above, a look at a storage shed on the property. No one appeared to be home on Thursday 
Above, a look at a storage shed on the property. No one appeared to be home on Thursday 

Above, a look at a storage shed on the property. No one appeared to be home on Thursday 

A paper plate, apparently a shooting target, was on another tree.

Few people on the Lantana Cascades estate speak English. One neighbor who would not give his name said he only met Cruz once when the people in the house introduced him.

‘He seemed like a nice kid but it was only the once,’ the elderly man said. ‘Then he was gone. I never saw him again.’

The backyard of the home on Easter Cay Way is littered with garden furniture and toys. Eerily, a Hot Wheels toy in a container is still beeping. A tan Kia Soul stands in the driveway.

Another neighbor, whose house on a neighboring street overlooks the home where Cruz had been staying, described Wednesday night on Lantana Cascades as ‘a madhouse.’

‘Dozens of police came. It was shortly after 5pm.

‘They taped two whole streets off and made those nearest the house get out. I stayed though.

‘I saw them go in and bring a lot of stuff out, but it was dark so I couldn’t see what.’

Nikolas Cruz, 19, was arrested after he stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday afternoon armed with an assault rifle
Nikolas Cruz, 19, was arrested after he stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday afternoon armed with an assault rifle

Nikolas Cruz, 19, was arrested after he stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday afternoon armed with an assault rifle

The 'heavily armed' shooter, named by police sources to DailyMail.com as former student Nicolas de Jesus Cruz, was handcuffed as he was led to the car
The 'heavily armed' shooter, named by police sources to DailyMail.com as former student Nicolas de Jesus Cruz, was handcuffed as he was led to the car

The suspect, wearing a maroon colored top, is taken into custody two hours after opening fire on his high school

Authorities inspect the AR-15 rifle the teen gunman used in the mass shooting on Wednesday
Authorities inspect the AR-15 rifle the teen gunman used in the mass shooting on Wednesday

Authorities inspect the AR-15 rifle the teen gunman used in the mass shooting on Wednesday

The suspected gunman was checked out at a hospital after his arrest (above in a hospital gown) and is now being held at a secure location in a public building
The suspected gunman was checked out at a hospital after his arrest (above in a hospital gown) and is now being held at a secure location in a public building

The suspected gunman was checked out at a hospital after his arrest (above in a hospital gown) and is now being held at a secure location in a public building

Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old junior at the school, said Cruz was expelled last school year because he got into a fight with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. She said he had been abusive to his girlfriend. Another student said that part of the reason Cruz was expelled was that he was caught carrying bullets in his backpack.

'I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him,' she said. 

Traumatized students said that once they heard reports of a mass shooting at the school they knew it would be Cruz, while one teacher said he had been identified as a potential threat to his classmates last year.

Matthew Walker, a 17-year-old student at the school, told WFOR-TV that all his classmates 'knew it was going to be him.'

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said Cruz was a former student at the school but had been expelled for unknown 'disciplinary reasons' last year 
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said Cruz was a former student at the school but had been expelled for unknown 'disciplinary reasons' last year 

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said Cruz was a former student at the school but had been expelled for unknown 'disciplinary reasons' last year 

'A lot of people were saying it was going to be him,' he said. 'A lot of kids threw jokes around saying that he was going to be the one to shoot up the school. It turns out that everyone predicted it. That's crazy.'

'He was going class to class just shooting at random kids,' he said. 'Everything he posts (on social media) is about weapons. It's sick.'

Math teacher Jim Gard, who taught Cruz last year, told the Miami Herald: 'We were told last year that he wasn't allowed on campus with a backpack on him. There were problems with him last year threatening students and I guess he was asked to leave campus.'

Another student took to social media claiming Cruz had mental health issues that were 'ignored by all the adults'.

'He literally had an Instagram where he posted pictures of animals he killed gruesomely and he physically assaulted one of my friends once,' the student added.

Another student, who was not identified, but claims to know Cruz told WSVN he was obsessed with guns and showed him pictures of them on his phone.

'He's been a troubled kid and he's always had a certain amount of issues going on. He shot guns because he felt it gave him, I guess, an exhilarating feeling.'

He added that Cruz made him nervous.

'I stayed clear of him most of the time. My time in alternate school, I did not want to be with him at all because I didn't want to cause any conflict with him because of the impression he gave off.' 

Former classmate Joshua Charo, 16, told the Miami Herald that all Cruz 'would talk about is guns, knives and hunting'.

'I can’t say I was shocked. From past experiences, he seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this,' Charo said.

'He used to tell me he would shoot rats with his BB gun and he wanted this kind of gun, and how he liked to always shoot for practice,' Charo added.

One student added that Cruz started selling knives out of a lunchbox when he started high school. 

As a high school freshman, Cruz was part of the US military-sponsored Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corp program at the school. 

President Trump tweeted Thursday morning, saying there were signs that the shooter was 'mentally disturbed'.

He also entreated Americans to report similar people to the 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 such a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!' he wrote.

Trump has cited mental health before as a cause for mass shootings, dismissing questions about gun control. 

Staff and students walked single file outside the school as they evacuated after the shooting 
Staff and students walked single file outside the school as they evacuated after the shooting 

Staff and students walked single file outside the school as they evacuated after the shooting 

Students were seen fleeing the building with their hands in the air, as they ran for safety from the gunman
Students were seen fleeing the building with their hands in the air, as they ran for safety from the gunman

Students were seen fleeing the building with their hands in the air, as they ran for safety from the gunman

Medical personnel tend to a bloodied victim as they help to evacuate them from the school 
Medical personnel tend to a bloodied victim as they help to evacuate them from the school 

Medical personnel tend to a bloodied victim as they help to evacuate them from the school 

An injured female was transported from the school on a stretcher by first responders on Wednesday afternoon 
An injured female was transported from the school on a stretcher by first responders on Wednesday afternoon 

An injured female was transported from the school on a stretcher by first responders on Wednesday afternoon 

Just before the shooting broke out at 2:25pm, some students thought they were having another fire drill.

Such an exercise had forced them to leave their 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.

That's when police say 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 was the nation's deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.

'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.'

Police arrived at the scene to find hundreds of students fleeing the school. They later learned the shooter had concealed himself in the crowd and was among those running off the campus.

Investigators were able to identify him after trawling surveillance video. He was arrested about and hour after the shooting first broke out when police cornered him in a nearby neighborhood. He had multiple magazines of ammunition on him, authorities said.

Seventeen people were killed and more than a dozen injured. 

Twelve of the people shot dead were found dead inside the school building, two more were killed just outside the school and another in a nearby street. Two other people died later after being rushed to hospital. 

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

Students released from a lockdown embrace following following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
Students released from a lockdown embrace following following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Students released from a lockdown embrace following following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

CORRECTS SPELLING TO MARJORY NOT MARJORIE Students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, after a shooter opened fire on the campus. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
CORRECTS SPELLING TO MARJORY NOT MARJORIE Students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, after a shooter opened fire on the campus. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

CORRECTS SPELLING TO MARJORY NOT MARJORIE Students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, after a shooter opened fire on the campus. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Medical personnel tend to a victim following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
Medical personnel tend to a victim following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Medical personnel tend to a victim following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Medical personnel tend to a victim following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
Medical personnel tend to a victim following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Medical personnel tend to a victim following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Terrified students barricaded themselves in their classrooms as the shooter prowled the halls, armed with an assault rifle
Terrified students barricaded themselves in their classrooms as the shooter prowled the halls, armed with an assault rifle

Terrified students barricaded themselves in their classrooms as the shooter prowled the halls, armed with an assault rifle

TIMELINE OF FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING 

2.25pm: Gunshots ring out through the corridors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The school goes into immediate lockdown.

2.30pm: Authorities respond to an active shooter at the school in Parkland where they say the shooter is still active.

3.pm: Hundreds of students flee the school with their hands raised as SWAT arrives to tackle the ongoing situation

3.30pm: Students and teachers begin posting harrowing footage from inside the school where they are trapped and unable to leave their classrooms.

4pm: Just after 4 p.m., Broward County Sheriff's Office announced on Twitter that a suspect had been apprehended

4.30pm: The suspect - named as Nikolas Cruz - was transported handcuffed and via ambulance to local hospital where he was placed under armed guard. 

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 hadn't 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 the shooter fired, many of the students inside hid under desks or in closets, and barricaded doors.

'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.'

As he was leaving the building, he saw four dead students and one dead teacher. He said he was relieved when he finally found his mother.

'I was happy that I was alive,' Max said. 'She was crying when she saw me.'

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.'

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

Sen. Bill Nelson told CNN that Cruz had pulled the fire alarm 'so the kids would come pouring out of the classrooms into the hall.'

Students released from a lockdown are overcome with emotion following following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
Students released from a lockdown are overcome with emotion following following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Students released from a lockdown are overcome with emotion following following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Parents wait for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)
Parents wait for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

Parents wait for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

'And there the carnage began,' said Nelson, who said he was briefed by the FBI.

The scene was reminiscent of the Newtown attack, which shocked even a country numbed by the regularity of school shootings. The December 14, 2012, assault at Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 26 people: 20 first-graders and six staff members. The 20-year-old gunman, who also fatally shot his mother in her bed, then killed himself.

Not long after Wednesday's attack in Florida, Michael Nembhard was sitting in his garage on a cul-de-sac when he saw a young man in a burgundy shirt walking down the street. In an instant, a police cruiser pulled up, and officers jumped out with guns drawn.

Gunshots were first heard at about 2.25pm on Wednesday before Cruz, who had escaped among fleeing students, was arrested a short time later in Coral Springs
Gunshots were first heard at about 2.25pm on Wednesday before Cruz, who had escaped among fleeing students, was arrested a short time later in Coral Springs

Gunshots were first heard at about 2.25pm on Wednesday before Cruz, who had escaped among fleeing students, was arrested a short time later in Coral Springs

Majory Stoneman Douglas High School is located in Parkland, west of Boca Raton, in Florida 
Majory Stoneman Douglas High School is located in Parkland, west of Boca Raton, in Florida 

Majory Stoneman Douglas High School is located in Parkland, west of Boca Raton, in Florida 

'All I heard was 'Get on the ground! Get on the ground!'' Nembhard said. He said Cruz did as he was told.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott joined law enforcement agents near the site of the deadly school shooting on Wednesday night and offered his condolences to the victims' families and survivors.

Scott said that he couldn't imagine what the families of the victims are going through. He also said he would be visiting hospitalized survivors.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said the state would cover funeral expenses for the victims and counseling for survivors.

The school will be closed for the rest of the week.

South Florida remained on edge on Thursday. Miami’s main criminal courthouse building was put on lockdown after an unspecified threat was reported, Miami-Dade County’s state attorney said on Twitter.

Another Broward school briefly also went on lockdown after reports of a shooting, which turned out to be unfounded, local media reported.

A law enforcement officer is assigned to every school in the Broward County district, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High board member Donna Korn told a local newspaper. The sheriff’s office also provides active shooter training and schools have a single point of entry, she said.

'We have prepared the campuses, but sometimes people still find a way to let these horrific things happen,' Korn said.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is in Parkland - Florida's safest city last year.

It's also a lucrative area to live because the schools are so good.

The incident comes just a few weeks after a 15-year-old boy opened fire at his rural Kentucky high school, killing two and injuring more than two dozen others. 

It's the 30th mass shooting of the year and the third-deadliest school shooting in American history, behind Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech.

WORST SCHOOL SHOOTINGS IN THE LAST 20 YEARS

The bloodshed in Florida was the latest outbreak of gun violence that has become a regular occurrence at U.S. schools and colleges. Below are some of the worst U.S. school shootings in the last 20 years.

BENTON, Kentucky, Jan. 23, 2018 - Gabe Parker, 15, kills two fellow students, both also 15, at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky with a pistol and wounds 14 others. Four other high schoolers suffered non-gunshot wounds in the ensuing panic. 

AZTEC, New Mexico, Dec. 7, 2017 - William Atchison, a 21-year-old man, disguised as a student enters the local high school, kills two students and then shoots himself to death. 

SAN BERNARDINO, California, April 10, 2017 - Cedric Anderson dies of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after killing his estranged wife at North Park Elementary School where she worked. An 8-year-old student is also shot to death. 

ROSEBURG, Oregon, Oct. 1, 2015 - Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, opens fire on the campus of Umpqua Community College, killing nine people before he is shot dead by police. 

MARYSVILLE, Washington, Oct. 24, 2014 - Freshman student Jaylen Fryberg, 15, at Marysville-Pilchuck High School fatally wounds four students in the cafeteria before killing himself.

SANTA MONICA, California, June 7, 2013 - A onetime digital media student, John Zawahri, 23, fatally shoots his father and brother, sets their house on fire, and then kills three people at Santa Monica College. The gunman kills himself. 

NEWTOWN, Connecticut, Dec. 14, 2012 - Adam Lanza, 20, fatally shoots his mother, then kills 20 children and six adults before killing himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was the deadliest mass shooting at either a high school or grade school in US history and prompted renewed debate about gun control in the United States.

OAKLAND, California, April 2, 2012 - One L Goh, a former nursing student, kills seven people and wounds three at Oikos University, a Korean Christian college. 

CHARDON, Ohio, Feb. 27, 2012 - Seventeen-year-old student Thomas 'T.J' Lane at Chardon High School kills three students and wounds three in school cafeteria. He received three life sentences on March 19, 2013. In 2014, Lane, along with two other inmates, escaped from Allen Correctional Institution in Lima, Ohio, but he was recaptured the following day. 

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama, Feb. 12, 2010 - Amy Bishop, a biology professor at the University of Alabama at Huntsville opens fire during a staff meeting, killing three faculty members and wounding three. 

DEKALB, Illinois, Feb. 14, 2008 - Steve Kazmierczak, a former graduate student, kills five students and wounds 16 at Northern Illinois University before taking his own life. 

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, Feb. 8, 2008 - Nursing student Latina Williams at Louisiana Technical College kills two classmates and herself in a classroom. 

BLACKSBURG, Virginia, April 16, 2007 -  Gunman Seung-Hui Cho slaughters 32 people and kills himself at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, popularly known as Virginia Tech. At the time it was the deadliest shooting carried out by a single gunman in US history.

NICKEL MINES, Pennsylvania, Oct. 2, 2006 - Gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV took hostages and shot eight out of 10 girls, killing five in a one-room Amish schoolhouse, before killing himself.

SHEPHERDSTOWN, West Virginia, Sept. 2, 2006 - 49-year-old Douglas Pennington shoots himself and his two sons Logan, 26, and Benjamin, 24, to death during a visit to the campus of Shepherd University.

RED LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION, Minnesota, March 21, 2005 - A 16-year-old high school student Jeffrey Weise, kills seven people including his grandfather, a tribal police officer, and wounds several others in a shooting rampage after killing two people off-campus. He then kills himself. 

COLD SPRING, Minnesota, Sept. 24, 2003 - Fifteen-year-old student John Jason McLaughlin, fatally shoots a freshman and a senior at Rocori High School. 

TUCSON, Arizona, Oct. 29, 2002 - Failing student Robert S Flores Jr, 41, shoots and kills three professors and then himself at the University of Arizona School of Nursing. 

GRUNDY, Virginia, Jan. 16, 2002 - Nigerian immigrant Peter Odighizuwa, a recently dismissed graduate student aged 41, kills a dean, a professor and a student at the Appalachian School of Law and wounds three others.

SANTEE, California, March 5, 2001 - Charles Andrew Williams, a student at Santana High School kills two students, wounds 13.  He is currently serving life in prison.

LITTLETON, Colorado, April 20, 1999 - Two teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold rampage through Columbine High School, fatally shooting 12 students and a teacher and wounding more than 20 others before killing themselves. The personal journals of the duo document that they wanted their actions to rival that of the Oklahoma City bombing.

JONESBORO, Arkansas, March 24, 1998 - Two boys Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, fire on their middle school from woods, killing four girls and a teacher and wounding 11 others.

  
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