A 19-year-old former student has been identified as the suspect in a shooting at a Florida high school that has left multiple people dead and wounded.
Nicolas de Jesus Cruz, who was previously identified as a threat to students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was arrested after the shooting, the Miami Herald reports.
At least 14 victims were taken to local hospitals after the shooting at the Parkland school, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said. The school district’s superintendent said there are numerous fatalities and Florida Senator Bill Nelson said there were “many deaths,” but the exact number of those killed has not been released.
The motive for the shooting is not yet known. Cruz used the name Nikolas Cruz on social media and also goes by Nick Cruz.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Was Taken Into Custody at a Home Not Far From the School After Fleeing From the Shooting During the Chaos
Nick Cruz was taken into custody at a Parkland home not far from the school about about 4 p.m. The shooting was first reported about 2:30 p.m. It is not clear how Cruz escaped from the school, but he possibly fled with students during the chaos.
Video showed Cruz being led out of the home and into a Broward County Sheriff’s Office vehicle.
Cruz was taken to a local hospital, but it is not clear if he was wounded or if he is being taken to the hospital for a precautionary examination.
2. A Teacher at the School Said Cruz Was Not Allowed on Campus With a Backpack After He Threatened Other Students
Nick Cruz was a former student at the school and was reported for making threats to students in the past, the Miami Herald reports.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” Jim Gard, a math teacher who had the suspected shooter in his class last year, told the newspaper. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”
Gard said the school administration sent out an email warning teachers that the student had made threats against others in the past and should not be allowed on the campus with a backpack.
3. He Posted Photos of Guns & Knives on Instagram Along With a Message About
Using the name Nikolas Cruz, the suspect posted several photos in 2016 and 2015 on his Instagram page of weapons and made statements about wanting to buy guns. The page has since been deleted, but Heavy confirmed with sources who know Cruz that the page belonged to him.
In 2016, he posted a photo of a shotgun he said he wanted to buy.
“I plan on getting this but I need more information on it so if someone could give advice on how much I’m spending and background cheeks please to god let me know,” he wrote in 2016.
He also posted multiple photos in January 2016 of himself holding knives.
In 2015, he posted a screenshot of a Google search for the phrase, “what does allahu akbar.” He then wrote in the caption, “Well at least we now know what it means when a sand durka says “allahu Akbar” ??????”
Also in 2015, he posted a meme of a target with bullet holes in it with the words “Group therapy, sometimes it works.” He added in the caption, “It really does f*cking work give it a try ;).”
4. Police Received a Tip That the Suspected Shooter Was Watching Videos About Making Bombs
In 2015, he posted a photo of himself giving the middle finger with the caption, “F*ck youuuuuuuuuuuu allllll.”
Police received a tip that the suspect was possibly watching videos on Youtube about how to make bombs, according to police scanner transmissions. Police were searching the building as a precaution after learning about that information, but it is not known if there were any bombs left in the school.
The person who gave police the tip also had messages exchanged with the suspect.
Police were at the suspect’s home searching for more information about him. They were also at his employer.
5. Students Say There Heard a Loud Boom & Several Shots, Sending Them Into Hiding in Closets & Elsewhere in the School
A student who is inside the school told CBS Miami through text message, “All of a sudden there was a really loud noise…..people are crying” and hiding in “the closet.”
You can watch live coverage from the scene here:
Students have taken to Twitter to provide updates about the situation, saying they’ve heard several shots and are hiding in the school.
Jay Golden, of Parkland, whose daughter, Rachel is a senior at the high school. She is still inside the school, Golden told the Sun-Sentinel.
“She was crying, she’s scared. She’s been texting back and forth. She’s OK at the moment,” he told the newspaper. “I’m freaking out. This is crazy, this stuff shouldn’t be going on in these schools. People are crazy. I don’t know what goes on through these people’s minds these days, it’s a scary thing. It’s one of those things – you don’t want to put a metal protector and treat them like prisoners but they have to figure something out. You put your kids in school and it’s supposed to be a safe place and this stuff happens all the time.”
Federal authorities are responding to the scene, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is typical in active shooter incidents.
“ATF agents from the Miami Field Division are responding to reports of a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The investigation is ongoing and active,” the ATF tweeted.
The Coral Springs Police tweeted, “Worried parents of Douglas HS students, while this is Parkland scene (handled by BSO) we are assisting. We understand you are worried for your children (and nearby Middle School children, which was put on lock down as a precaution). Police are working an active shooter scene, and ask that if you are in touch with your student you ask that they remain calm and barricaded until police come to their room, this is for everyone’s safety. Do NOT call our 911 or non-emergency number unless it is an emergency.”
“AVOID AREA OF DOUGLAS HS for ACTIVE POLICE SCENE. Do not call 911 unless an emergency. Nothing further,” the Coral Springs Police Department, one of the agencies to respond, tweeted.
The department added, “Students/Teachers #Douglas High School Remain barricaded inside until police reach you.”
Parents are being told to go to a hotel near the school:
About 2,900 students are enrolled at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, according to its website.
The school is part of the Broward County Public Schools system.
“I’ve spoken with @BrowardSheriff Scott Israel, @browardschools Superintendent Robert Runcie and FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen regarding Stoneman Douglas High School. We’ll continue to receive updates from law enforcement,” Florida Governor Rick Scott tweeted.
President Donald Trump has been made aware of the situation, the White House says.
“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. “Just spoke to Governor Rick Scott. We are working closely with law enforcement on the terrible Florida school shooting.”
Parkland Mayor Philip Levine tweeted, “Keeping the children, faculty and first responders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in our thoughts as we learn more about the horrible incident unfolding.”
Florida Congresswoman Fredrica Wilson tweeted, “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the horrific shooting taking place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It is heartbreaking that these violent incidents continue to take place in schools, a place where our children should feel and be the most safe!”