PARKLAND, Fla. (WFLA) – There are a “number of fatalities” confirmed after an 18-year-old active shooter opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, Sen. Bill Nelson D-Fla. said.
The gunman was identified as Nicolas Cruz. He was not a student at the school.
“This is a really bad day for Florida and for the country,” Nelson said.
“There are multiple casualties, though, there are folks who have lost their lives. I don’t know the number right now,” Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.
There were at least 14 victims taken to local hospitals, Israel said. There was no immediate word on the extent of those injuries.
“It is a horrific, homicidal, detestable act,” the sheriff said. He said he would not elaborate on the number of deaths until an all clear is given. Officials aren’t sure if some people are still hiding or injured inside. SWAT is going building to building.
The Broward sheriff said that the parent staging area is at the Marriott 11775 Heron Bay Boulevard in Coral Springs.
The shooter, described as a former student, was in custody. The sheriff said he had been inside and outside the school. He tried to blend in with other students walking away from the school and was arrested along a street.
He was seen being put into a police cruiser at about 4 p.m., and about 20 minutes later, he was removed from the car, put onto a stretcher and taken to a local hospital.
A father said the shooter pulled a fire alarm at the school and that caused students and teachers to come out of their classroom so he could start shooting in the hallway. The kids already had a fire drill earlier in the day.
“It was supposed to be just a fire drill, we thought it was just a fire drill because we had one earlier. But as soon as the fire drill got pulled – the fire alarm got pulled – the kids were evacuating, I heard five pops. And I was like, that’s not a drill because we never did a drill like that. When we started evacuating towards the back of Wesley’s with the middle school I knew that it was more than a drill because we’d never done that. I graduated and I came back to visit one of my teachers,” said a former student.
The shooter was reported to be a former student at the school. Reports said that he currently goes to an alternative school.
“Honestly, a lot of people were saying that it was gonna be him, stuff like that. We actually, we – a lot of kids threw jokes around like that saying that he was going to be the one to shoot up the school. It turns out, everyone predicted it.”
“Yeah, he was on the third floor. He knows the school layout. He knows where everyone would be at as of right now. He’s been at the fire drills. He’s prepared for this.stuff,” a student said.
Officers responded to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at 5901 Pine Island Road in Parkland at about 2:30 p.m.
School board officials said staff and students heard what sounded like gunfire shortly before dismissal, and the school went on an immediate lockdown.
Video showed dozens of officers and ambulances at the school as students ran out. Some reported victims were seen being carried out of the school.
Students were escorted by armed police out of the high school in a single file. Parents said their kids were trapped inside.
NBC 6 spoke to the older brother of one student, who said his sister, a sophomore, was safe but “trembling in shock” at the scene unfolding at her high school.
“It’s just complete chaos out there,” he said a short distance from the school. “She was numb.”
ATF agents from the Miami Field Division responded to the school.
President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott were notified of the situation. Scott is traveling to Broward County now to be briefed by emergency management officials and law enforcement.
“My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school,” Trump tweeted.
Broward County Superintendent says it appears to be the deadliest school shooting in Broward County’s history.