Hearing loud bangs as the shooter fired inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in PARKLAND, Fla., many of the students inside hid under desks or in closets, and barricaded doors.
Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old man, was equipped with a AR-15 rifle, 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.
The gunman has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after being questioned for hours by state and federal authorities.
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. Fifteen wounded survivors were hospitalized as bodies were recovered from inside and around the school.
"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 that he had been kicked out of the high school. 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, 2018 neighbors, friends and family members said. 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.
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 in northwest Broward. The family agreed and Cruz moved in 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 locked up in a cabinet. He did have the key, however.
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. "I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him," she said.
Cruz was taken into custody without a fight about an hour after the shooting in a residential neighborhood about a mile away. He had multiple magazines of ammunition, authorities said. Read more at NJ.COM here Via Associated Press