International desk, Feb 15: There were 17 people killed Wednesday in the shooting at a South Florida high school, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said, making the massacre one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.At least 14 injured victims were taken to hospitals after the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Of the 17 dead, 12 were inside the school building, Israel said, and two “were just outside.”
“One victim was on the street” outside the school, he added. “And two people lost their lives at the hospital.”
The suspected gunman, a former student at the school described as troubled by those who knew him, was arrested off campus.
He was identified as Nikolas Cruz, according to multiple law enforcement sources.
Cruz used an AR-15-style assault weapon and had multiple magazines, Israel said.
FBI agents said that during the massacre the suspect wore a gas mask and carried multiple smoke grenades, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) told CNN.
News coverage of the tragedy included the now all-too-familiar images of parking-lot triage operations, anxious parents outside the school and dozens of kids running from the school building with their hands in the air or on the shoulders of fellow students.
Several students were still holding Valentine’s Day balloons as they sprinted from the school.
Some were told by officers to close their eyes passing slain classmates.
“There’s nothing good to see in there,” student Nicole Baltzer, 18, recalled a cop warning as she walked past a classroom littered with broken glass.
The shooting happened shortly 10 minutes before the usual 3 p.m. dismissal time.
Students recalled hearing fire alarms ringing, and because there had been a fire drill earlier in the day, they assumed at first that it was just another one.
But authorities believe the gunman pulled the alarm to create confusion — and maybe flush students into the hallways and out of the safety of classrooms.
The sound of gunfire came next, and again students were reluctant to think the worst.
Some assumed the sound came from firecrackers. Student Michael Katz told ABC News that he thought he “heard what sounded like a garbage truck, like banging.
“Then also I hear, ‘Boom, boom, boom.’ ”
Then came the unmistakable sound of mayhem — the shrieks of terror.
Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie nearly lost his composure as he told reporters of the “multiple fatalities.”
“It’s a horrific situation. It’s just a horrible day for us,” he said, adding that one of those killed was an administrator.
“It’s a day that you pray every day you’ll never have to see,” he said.