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Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies are working late into the night to investigate the aftermath of a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland by a former student.
Late Wednesday night, several bodies remain inside the school, still unidentified.
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel listed where the deceased victims were found. “We have 17 confirmed [deceased] victims,” he said. “Twelve victims were within the building, two victims were just outside the building, one victim is on the street, on the corner of Pine Island Road, and two people lost their lives at the hospital.”
A release published by BSO just before midnight revealed “responding deputies were met with hundreds of students fleeing the school. Investigators later learned that the shooter had concealed himself in the crowd and was among those running out of the school.”
Detectives, however, would soon identify the shooter as Nikolas Cruz, 19, by watching school surveillance video.
Cruz was later taken into custody by Coconut Creek police in a nearby neighborhood in Coral Springs. “Cruz exhibited labored breathing. He was transported to a local hospital as a precaution for medical clearance,” noted the release.
“He was taken into arrest without incident,” said Israel.
Investigators said Cruz set off a fire alarm and shot off an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle at teachers and students, at around 2:30 p.m.
Speaking with reporters, Wednesday evening, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said, “The shooter wore a gas mask, and he had smoke grenades,” he said.
During an evening press conference alongside Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Israel, Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said, “Our district in a tremendous state of grief, sorrow. We’re heartbroken over this unspeakable tragedy which has occurred here in Parkland, Florida.”
Scott then vowed to dedicate whatever state resources he can to help in the investigation or help any family member impacted by this shooting.
Just before 7 p.m., doctors at Broward Health North spoke about the victims and the extent of their injuries.
“Through Broward Health System we received 17 patients. At Broward Health North, we received eight patients and one suspect,” said Dr. Evan Boyar, who works at Broward Health North’s Emergency Services Department. “The suspect was treated and released into police custody. Of our eight patients, we had two mortalities, three in critical condition, and three are stable.”
Officials confirmed all of these victims suffered gunshot wounds.
Among the dead was a football coach. The son of a BSO deputy was also hit in his arm during the shooting. He is receiving treatment at a hospital.
Just after 10:30 p.m., police in Lantana reported having to respond to a mobile home park in the area to investigate an explosive device somehow connected to the shooting. Neighbors said police have determined that the suspect spent some time there.
Not long after, federal investigators began searching a home near Parkland, as they continue to piece together what led a gunman to open fire at the high school three miles away.
What set the accused shooter off remains unknown, but the sheriff said detectives have been going through Cruz’s social media, and they have found some disturbing images among the postings, inlcuding a picture of the gun used in the shooting.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ principal said in a tweet that the school will remain closed until further notice. All school activities have also been cancelled.
Nearby Westglades Middle School will be open for normal school hours Thursday.
There will be grief counselors for students and families at Pines Trials Park Recreation Center, Coral Springs Gymnasium and Coral Springs Center for Performing Arts beginning at 8 a.m., Thursday.
Grief counselors will also be available for staff at Parkland Library on Thursday starting at 8 a.m.
As FBI officials continue to investigate they have opened a tip line for anyone who has information on the shooter. If you have any information that can help investigators, call 1-800-Call-FBI.
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