Former student kills 17 in Florida school shooting

By Joseph Volpe

An armed 19-year-old former student shot and killed 17 people and wounded 14 more on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, according to The Washington Post.

Mourning Parkland residents call for an end to gun violence. (AP Photo)

“It’s a horrific, horrific day,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, according to The Washington Post. “It’s catastrophic. There really are no words.”

The identified suspect is Nikolas Cruz, who was previously expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas due to disciplinary reasons, according to The Washington Post.

“It is a horrific situation,” said Robert Runcie, Parkland’s district superintendent. “It is a horrible day for us.”

The school shooting is the nation’s deadliest since the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut, according to the Boston Globe.

Cruz, equipped with a gas mask and smoke grenades, first set off the fire alarm to lure students out of their classrooms, according to the Boston Globe. He was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and numerous magazines, according to ABC.

“We had a fire drill early in the day, so we really didn’t know what was going on,” said 17-year-old Ryan Kadel, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, according to The Washington Post. “We went outside, and we saw a security guard on a golf cart driving really fast and yelling at us to run. People were texting, trying to find out what was going on. Kids were crying; some people were freaking out.”

Cruz then tried to escape by blending in with other escaping students, but was caught by law enforcement and taken into custody shortly after, according to ABC.

“I’m kind of surprised it happened here, but I’m not really shocked,” said Kadel, according to The Washington Post. “School shootings happen all the time, and then the news just forgets about them.”

The shooting revitalized conversations on gun control regulations and school security. In a press conference on Thursday, Feb. 22, Israel said that after reviewing the school’s security camera footage, it was found that the only officer stationed there, Deputy Scot Peterson, never entered the school to engage the shooter, instead taking cover outside while shooting occurred, according to The New York Times.

“He never went in,” Israel said, describing himself as feeling “devastated, sick to my stomach.”

“There are no words,” Israel said, according to The New York Times.

The FBI also received warnings about Cruz in the past as recently as last month. The FBI received a tip from someone who knew heard that Cruz owned a gun and talked about committing a school shooting, according to The New York Times. Another tip referenced a comment Cruz made on YouTube, stating that he wanted to be “a professional school shooter.”

Families and students voiced their anguish at the White House on Feb. 21 as part of a listening session with President Donald Trump, according to The New York Times.

“It should have been one school shooting, and we should have fixed it — and I’m pissed,” said Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter Meadow in the shooting, according to The New York Times. “Because my daughter, I’m not going to see (her) again.”

Trump offered his condolences, and took the opportunity to raise the idea of potentially arming teachers as a method of school security.

“I know you’ve been through a lot,” Trump said, according to The New York Times. “All I can say is that we’re fighting hard for you, and we will not stop.”