A heavily armed young man barged into his former high school about an hour northwest of Miami on Wednesday, opening fire on terrified students and teachers and leaving a death toll of 17 that could rise even higher, the authorities said.
Students huddled in horror in their classrooms, with some of them training their cellphones on the carnage, capturing sprawled bodies, screams and gunfire that began with a few shots and then continued with more and more. The dead included students and adults, some of whom were shot outside the school and others inside the sprawling three-story building.
Cruz was reportedly armed with an AR-15-styled semiautomatic rifle and “countless magazines,” the Broward Sheriff’s Office said. Law enforcement officials familiar with the shooting said Cruz also possessed a gas mask and smoke grenades , Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said on CNN. Cruz was believed to have intentionally set off the school’s fire alarms “so the kids would come pouring out of the classrooms into the hall,” during the shooting, Nelson continued. Cruz was taken into custody off campus about an hour after he “committed this horrific, detestable act,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who said investigators were reviewing social media postings that he described as “very disturbing.”