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Florida high school shooting: What we know so far

At least 17 people are dead after a gunman opened fire on a local high school in southeastern Florida.

candlelight memorial service

More than a thousand people gathered to mourn the 17 people killed in Wednesday's mass shooting at a Florida high school, with many calling for stricter gun control laws. 

Several vigils were held throughout the day and evening on Thursday, a day after a gunman opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing at least 14 students and three adults. 

During a candlelight vigil on Thursday night in Parkland, a sea of candles lit the sky as those in attendance held a moment of silence for the victims. 

"It's good that people can come together, but it's bad that this is what it took for them to come together" a student who attended the vigil told WJXT-TV. 

Another student told the Palm Beach Post that he has been "trying to process everything that's going through [his] brain, trying to cope". 

"I was mad. He was 14 years old. I hate that feeling," the student said, referring to the brother of a close friend that was killed. 

Seventeen angels’ structures lined the stage at the vigil to represent the victims, according to local media. 

At one point during the service, students began chanting "no more guns", with several speaking about the need for stricter gun control.

Posts of memories and sadness over the loss of friends and family members flooded social media.  

"An angel was taken away from us in that horrific tragedy ... no words can be said so just prayers and sadness," a family friend of one of the victims wrote on Facebook. 

Another woman who lost her niece in the shooting wrote: "There are no hashtags for moments like this, only sadness."

It was revealed earlier on Thursday that the suspected attacker, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, admitted to police that he carried out the shooting. 

Cruz "stated that he was the gunman who entered the school campus armed with a AR-15 and began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on the school grounds". 

He has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. 

Here's what we know so far about the shooting: 

What happened and where?

  • A gunman began shooting outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday just before dismissal.
  • The gunman arrived at the school at 2:19pm local time (19:19 GMT)

READ MORE: Florida: At least 17 dead in Parkland school shooting

  • At least two people were killed outside the building and one person was killed in the street. 
  • The fire alarm went off inside the school.
  • The gunman entered one of the school buildings where, according to police, he continued his shooting rampage with a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle. 
  • He eventually fled the scene. 
  • The suspected gunman was later taken into custody in a neighbouring town.
  • The shooting took place in the town of Parkland. It is about an hour drive from Miami in southeast Florida. 
  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is a public school with about 3,000 students. 

How many people were killed? 

  • At least 17 people were killed, including 14 students and three adults who worked at the school. 
  • Three people were killed outside the school, while 12 were shot dead inside one of the buildings. Two died from their injuries at the hospital. 
  • The school's American football coach and athletic director are among the dead.
  • At least 15 others were injured. Five are suffering from "life-threatening injuries", police said. 

Who is Nikolas Cruz?

  • The suspect has been identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz. 
  • He was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday morning. 
  • According to police documents, he admitted to the shooting. 

READ MORE: Timeline: The deadliest mass shootings in the US

  • Police say Cruz was armed with a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle and carried "multiple" magazines with him. He was also equipped with a gas mask and smoke grenades. 
  • According to officials, Cruz was expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for disciplinary issues. They did not specify when he was expelled or the specifics of his expulsion. He was enrolled in a different high school, local reports said. 
  • Officials have begun going through Cruz's social media accounts and have found "disturbing" posts. 
  • "We have already begun to dissect his websites and things on social media that he was on and some of the things... are very, very disturbing," Sheriff Scott Israel said late on Wednesday. 
  • Police said they are investigating possible links between Cruz and a white supremacist group in Florida.  

'I just ran': What have students said?

  • A number of unverified videos from inside the school at the time of the shooting have been circulating on social media. 
  • In one video, people are screaming "Oh my God!" as gunshots rang out. 
  • Students at the school have described the "chaotic" scene to local media. 
  • "I just ran. I had my book bag on my back, just in case I got shot in the back," one student told CNN. 
  • "I saw some bodies. It wasn't good," another student told West Palm Beach's WPTV.
  • "We hear bullets coming closer and closer to us, and then we just hear kids screaming," a ninth-grade student told Miami's WPLG news station. "This teacher was apparently trying to help a student and got shot," the student added.  

What have officials said?

  • Florida Governor Rick Scott said the shooting was "absolutely pure evil". He also said there was "a time" to talk about gun control when questioned by reporters on Wednesday. 
  • US President Donald Trump offered his condolences to the families of the victims. He said: "No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school". 
  • Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy spoke in front of the Senate shortly after the shooting, saying Congress is "responsible for the level of mass atrocity that happens to this country with zero parallel anywhere else". He added: "As a parent, it scares me to death that this body doesn't take serious the safety of my children."

What are others saying?

  • Online, the shooting renewed calls for stricter gun control in the country. #GunControlNow trended worldwide after news of the shooting broke; with many criticising politicians for what they said was a failure to act on gun violence. Others pointed to the use of the AR-15 rifle in a number of mass shootings in the country. 


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