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story.lead_photo.caption Mourners hold a candlelight vigil Thursday night at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

PARKLAND, Fla. -- The man accused of gunning down 17 people at a Florida high school admitted to law enforcement officials that he carried out one of the nation's deadliest school shootings, authorities said in court papers filed Thursday.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, was arraigned and charged Thursday with 17 counts of premeditated murder in Wednesday's attack.

Cruz told investigators that he shot students in the hallways and on the grounds of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, north of Miami, a report from the Broward County sheriff's office says. Cruz also told investigators that he carried loaded magazines of ammunition to the school and kept them in his backpack until he got on campus, the report says.

Sheriff Scott Israel said the gunman fired into five classrooms -- four on the first floor and one on the second floor. The shooting lasted three minutes.

When he was done shooting, he went to the third floor and dropped his AR-15 rifle and the backpack containing the ammunition, Israel said. He then ran out of the building and attempted to blend in with fleeing students, the sheriff said.

Cruz had taken an Uber ride to the school, so he fled on foot along with those running from the gunfire, according to court filings. An officer found him not long after the shooting walking along a residential street.

After the rampage, the suspect headed to a Walmart store and bought a drink at a Subway restaurant before walking to a McDonald's, the sheriff said. He was taken into custody about 40 minutes after leaving the McDonald's, he said.

A day after the attack, a fuller portrait emerged of the suspect, a loner who had worked at a dollar store, joined the school's ROTC program and posted photos of weapons on Instagram. At least one student said classmates joked that Cruz would "be the one to shoot up the school."

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Photos by The Associated Press

Authorities did not publicly announce a motivation for the carnage, but they were digging into elements of Cruz's past, including a pattern of disciplinary issues and unnerving behavior.

FBI investigators were pursuing information suggesting that Cruz was associated with a Florida white supremacist group. But agents were still trying Thursday to determine the extent of his involvement with the group, if any, according to a law enforcement official who asked not to be identified discussing an ongoing investigation.

The leader of the militia, called the Republic of Florida, said Cruz was a member of his group and had participated in exercises in Tallahassee. Jordan Jereb said he had only a brief interaction with Cruz a few years ago. The group wants Florida to become its own white ethno-state.

Neither the Leon County sheriff's office in Tallahassee nor the Southern Poverty Law Center could confirm any link between Cruz and the militia.

On Thursday night, at least 1,000 people attended a candlelight vigil for the slain, some of the mourners sobbing openly as the victims' names were read aloud.

"Each name was like my heart skipped a beat," Bryan Herrera said.

The 17-year-old soccer player said he initially hadn't planned to attend the vigil. "I didn't think I could handle it," he said.


At a brief court hearing, Cruz, wearing an orange jumpsuit with his hands cuffed at his waist, was ordered held without bail.

The judge asked him whether he understood his circumstances. "Yes, ma'am," he whispered.

His attorney had her arm around Cruz during the brief appearance. Afterward, she called him a "broken human being."

He was being held under a suicide watch, Executive Chief Public Defender Gordon Weekes said.

As the criminal case began to take shape, President Donald Trump, in an address to the nation, promised to "tackle the difficult issue of mental health," but he avoided any mention of guns. Two federal law enforcement officials said the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 .223-caliber weapon that Cruz used was purchased legally last year at Sunrise Tactical Gear in Florida.

Trump, who owns a private club in Palm Beach, about 40 miles from Parkland, said he planned to visit the grieving community. He did not answer shouted questions about guns as he left the room Thursday.

Trump, who did not speak publicly immediately after the shooting, weighed in on Twitter early Thursday, calling the suspect "mentally disturbed" and stressing that it was important to "report such instances to authorities, again and again!"

In the case of Cruz, at least one person did report him.

FBI agent Rob Lasky said the FBI investigated a 2017 YouTube comment that read: "I'm going to be a professional school shooter." But the agency could not identify the person who made the comment, which was from an account using the name Nikolas Cruz. It was left on a YouTube video of a blogger and bail bondsman from Mississippi named Ben Bennight.

In a Buzzfeed article, Bennight said he called the FBI, and agents arrived to talk with him. They called him again Wednesday.

Officials were also investigating whether authorities missed other warning signs about Cruz's potentially violent nature.

He had been expelled from the school for "disciplinary reasons," according to the sheriff, who said he did not know the specifics.

Math teacher Jim Gard told the Miami Herald that Cruz may have been identified as a potential threat before Wednesday's attack. Gard said he believes the school had sent out an email warning teachers that Cruz should not be allowed on campus with a backpack.

Cruz had no criminal history before the shootings, according to state law enforcement records, but his childhood was far from smooth.

He spent much of it in a subdivision called Pine Tree Estates, on a lush, narrow street dotted with tropical plants and the occasional driveway basketball hoop. Cruz and his brother, Zachary, had been adopted, and were raised largely by their mother, Lynda Cruz, especially after their father, Roger Cruz, died suddenly in 2004 at the age of 67. Lynda Cruz died in November, and people who knew Nikolas said he took the loss hard.

Paul Gold, 45, said he lived next door to the Cruzes in 2009 and 2010, and stayed in touch with Lynda Cruz over the years. He said Nikolas Cruz had emotional problems.

"He had trouble controlling his temper. He broke things. He would do that sometimes at our house when he lost his temper. But he was always very apologetic afterwards," Gold said.

Other neighbors said patrol cars were regularly in his mother's driveway.

Helen Pasciolla said Lynda Cruz had called sheriff's deputies to the house numerous times to keep Nikolas Cruz in line. Craig Koblitz, 62, a yacht repairman who lives across the street, said some neighbors had suspected him of burglarizing a nearby house a few years ago.

About six years ago, Koblitz returned to his home to find Cruz scooping the fish from the pond in his front yard. He said the boy did not seem to express much surprise or guilt over being caught stealing.


Meanwhile, students struggled to describe the violence that was the nation's deadliest school attack since a gunman targeted an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., more than five years ago.

Catarina Linden, a 16-year-old sophomore, said she was in an advanced math class Wednesday when the gunfire began.

"He shot the girl next to me," she said, adding that when she finally was able to leave the classroom, the air was foggy with gun smoke. "I stepped on so many shell casings. There were bodies on the ground, and there was blood everywhere."

State Sen. Bill Galvano visited the high school Thursday and was allowed to go to the third floor, where he was shown bullet holes that marked where Cruz had tried to shoot out the windows at point-blank range. But the high-impact glass did not shatter.

Authorities told Galvano that Cruz apparently wanted to shoot out the windows so he could fire on the students running away from the school. Police told Galvano that it was not that difficult to open the windows.

"Thank God he didn't," Galvano said.

Teachers and students were killed in the attack, including a soccer player, a trombonist in the marching band, and a popular football coach who himself had attended the school.

The last of the bodies were removed from the high school Thursday after authorities analyzed the crime scene. Thirteen wounded survivors were still hospitalized, including two in critical condition.

Lori Alhadeff, the mother of one of the victims, Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, said she had a message for Trump.

"President Trump, we need action, we need change," she said, tears streaming down her face. "Get these guns out of the hands of these young kids and get these guns off the streets."

Douglas High has about 3,000 students and serves a suburb where the median home price is nearly $600,000.

Wednesday's shooting was the 17th incident of gunfire at an American school this year. Of the 17 incidents, one involved a suicide, two involved active shooters who killed students, two involved people killed in arguments and three involved people who were shot but survived. Nine involved no injuries at all.

Information for this article was contributed by Terry Spencer, Kelli Kennedy, Tamara Lush, Alina Hartounian, Freida Frisaro, Curt Anderson, Joshua Replogle, Sadie Gurman, Mike Balsamo, Bernard McGhee and John Mone of The Associated Press; by Lori Rozsa, Mark Berman, Devlin Barrett, David Nakamura, Brian Murphy, Moriah Balingit, Fred Barbash, William Wan, Jennifer Jenkins, Sarah Larimer, Julie Tate and David Weingrad of The Washington Post; and by Richard Fausset and Serge F. Kovaleski of The New York Times.

Photo by AP/Broward County Jail
This photo provided by the Broward County Jail shows Nikolas Cruz. Authorities say Cruz, a former student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, killing more than a dozen people and injuring several.
Veronica Laureano and her daughter, Zorayha, 11, attend a vigil Thursday at Parkland Baptist Church in Parkland, Fla., for victims of the shooting Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Photo by AP/Instagram
Photos found on Nikolas Cruz’s Instagram account include a masked selfie (shown) and an array of weapons lying on a bed.
Photo by AP/Instagram
Photos found on Nikolas Cruz’s Instagram account include a masked selfie and an array of weapons lying on a bed (shown).
Photo by Abbie Youkilis via AP
This undated photo provided by Abbie Youkilis shows her niece, Jaime Guttenberg. Guttenberg was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and was killed when former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire at the school Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Photo by Courtesy of Tyra Hemans via AP
This undated photo shows Joaquin Oliver, known by his nickname "Guac." Oliver, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., was killed when former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire at the school on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Photo by Facebook via AP
This photo taken from the Facebook page of Shawn Malone Reeder Sherlock shows an undated photo of her niece, Gina Montalto, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Montalto was killed when former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire at the school Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Photo by Joan Cox via AP
This undated photo made available by Joan Cox shows her nephew Luke Hoyer. Hoyer was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. He was killed when former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire at the school Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Photo by Courtesy of Claudette McMahon Joshi via AP
This undated photo taken from the Facebook page of Claudette McMahon Joshi shows her great niece, Alaina Petty, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Petty was killed when former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire at the school on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018.
Photo by AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/SUSAN STOCKER
Nikolas Cruz appears by video before Judge Kim Theresa Mollica in Broward County Court on Thursday, where he was arraigned on 17 counts of premeditated murder and ordered held without bail.
President Donald Trump leaves a White House news conference on Thursday after giving a statement on the Parkland, Fla., shooting. Trump, who did not acknowledge questions about guns, said he would visit the city.

A Section on 02/16/2018

Print Headline: School shooting lasted 3 minutes, sheriff states

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  • RBear
    February 16, 2018 at 6:30 a.m.

    Yesterday, I decided to mostly stay out of the discussion on the school shooting, primarily because it was too soon and I also knew it would go out of control, which it did. One of the few posts I did make is something I really think should be a motto in this discussion. It was from a survivor of the shooting who said, "We're children. You guys are the adults." If only the adults would act like adults in this conversation, maybe the children could feel safe.
    But one thread that was running through the conversation revolved around Israeli school security. Pack hit me with it, but failed to provided details. Instead, when I did do some research and responded I was hit with an ad hominem attack with no facts. So I decided to dig more into the discussion.
    This round seems to stem from a photo meme of a group of children with an armed guard behind them. In reality, this was not a school but an outing and the guard was one posted at the facility they were visiting, not at the school. It also seems to stem from comments in 2012 after the Newtown shooting by Wayne LaPierre. “Israel had a whole lot of school shootings until they did one thing,” LaPierre said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “They said, ‘We’re going to stop it,’ and they put armed security at every school, and they have not had a problem since then.”
    I got that quote from an article by the Jerusalem Post that also debunked the statement. The article went on to say the NRA recruited our governor to put together a school security program based on the Israeli model. However, the 225-page report went nowhere as the huge funding requirement was pushed towards districts that are already unable to meet educational budgets. In fact, the NRA essentially shelved the report.
    In the JPost article, the Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the situation in Israel was “fundamentally different” from that in the United States. “What removed the danger was not the armed guards but an overall anti-terror policy and anti-terror operations which brought street terrorism down to nearly zero over a number of years,” he said. In full agreement was Prof. Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University “The attempt to compare the two tragedies is absurd,” Steinberg told the Daily News. “Palestinian terror attacks like one one at Maalot – the goal of which was to use the children as hostages in order to free other terrorists – are totally different from crimes committed by deranged people with guns.” (Both are quotes from the article)

  • RBear
    February 16, 2018 at 6:30 a.m.

    What is fact is that US schools have, in fact, implemented some of the measures taken by the Israeli school system. Active shooter training is a key part of every school and the Parkland school did take that action, as seen in videos and from eyewitness accounts. I asked Pack about that and got an ad hominem attack. Apparently he doesn't even know the fundamentals of active shooter training..
    The Parkland school also had an armed guard on duty at the time of the shooting, but was in another part of the school when the shooting occurred. As this and other articles note, the shooting happened in minutes, preventing the guard from finding and getting to the shooter before he dropped weapons and blended in with the crowd.
    The staff also issued a Red Alert when they recognized the shooter, putting in action defensive moves that still could not prevent his actions. It happened too quickly and his weapon of choice, an AR-15 style rifle, allowed him to carry out the attack swiftly and in a lethal manner. That was also verified by the videos and the rapid succession of shots recorded.
    So, before anyone else tries to make the claims about the Israeli school security program, please do the research. There's not much more schools can do than what they are already doing. Short of putting students in an armed camp which is unrealistic, they are doing as much as they can as the school in Parkland did. The problem is on the outside and needs to be addressed now, not later.
    A final thought from the kids. "We are the children. You guys are the adults." It's time to start acting like adults.

  • Foghorn
    February 16, 2018 at 7:07 a.m.

    There is actual footage in DailyMail online today of the shooter wearing a MAGA hat while target practicing in his backyard.

  • RBear
    February 16, 2018 at 7:31 a.m.

    Looking at this in more depth, the US seems to be the nation most plagued with school shootings. Here are the facts in countries and continents around the world:
    - Canada - 1/22/2016 - Two killed, seven injured. Prior to that, 3/2/2014 - zero killed, two injured.
    - Mexico - 1/18/2017 - Two killed, one injured.
    - Europe - France, 3/16/2017, four injured. Spain, 4/15/2015 - one killed, four injured.
    - South America - Brazil, 10/2/2017 - two killed, four injured. Brazil, 4/7/2011 - 13 killed.
    - Asia - Pakistan, 12/16/2014 - 145 killed in Taliban school attack. China, 10/27/2011 - one killed.
    - Oceania - Australia, 5/7/2012 - none killed or injured. Australia, 4/3/2003 - two injured.
    US school shootings:
    - 2018 - 8 with 21 killed.
    - 2017 - 8 with 15 killed.
    - 2016 - 15 with 10 killed.
    - 2015 - 21 with 20 killed.

  • BoudinMan
    February 16, 2018 at 7:49 a.m.

    As usual, my congressman's words ring hollow. French Hill, who offered well-wishes from himself and his wife following the Las Vegas massacre, and I'm sure he is in that mode today, received over one million dollars, over $1 million, from the NRA in campaign contributions. Bought and sold much, French?

  • Packman
    February 16, 2018 at 10:22 a.m.

    Hey RBear - Nah, you're wrong.
    Has the hysteria died down among you gun hating libs enough to have a rational discussion on ways to perhaps prevent these kind of horrific events? Or is the DNC still issuing more fake talking points? Regardless, let's make an attempt at rational discourse.
    Any discussion of gun control must take place within the context of that pesky old 2nd Amendment and the rest of the US Constitution. Sensible gun ownership restrictions must follow what has already been establish by the courts and the Constitution. Bans, confiscation, registration, etc. already adjudicated by the courts as permissive are not sensible. Repeal the 2nd Amendment and then turn America into Germany if that's your pleasure, and good luck with that.
    As to protecting our kids at school a great idea would be to allow armed teachers and other certified personnel on campus and inside the classroom. There's little doubt that had that brave coach that took bullets to save kids' lives had a Glock in his hand the maniac might have been stopped in his tracks. Law enforcement needs to have more flexibility to investigate troubled kids. The Florida maniac was surrounded by red flags for a number of years. Once mentally unstable kids are identified they should be incarcerated and receive treatment for an indefinite period of time.
    Anyone else have any rational thoughts?

  • RBear
    February 16, 2018 at 10:29 a.m.

    Okay, why am I wrong? You never provided a reference so I had to go find the information myself. Absent a reference from you on this, i count my information as accurate as it is backed by facts.
    Simply put, provide VALID counter arguments on the Israeli school model and then we can have a discussion. The Parkland school DID have an armed security guard on premise at the time of the shooting.

  • GeneralMac
    February 16, 2018 at 10:47 a.m.

    Yesterday idiotic posters favoring EXTREME gun control came out of the woodwork.
    Their comments should alarm every gun owner in Arkansas ( and across the nation )

    The very first post was by BOLTAR who stated a litmus test on gun control should be a #1 priority in the next election.

    Later, PopMom stated all automatic.........AND SEMI AUTOMATIC rifles ..should be banned.

    And finally, near the end, a post by our " genius" (SARC) RBear explaining in detail and praising GERMANY'S strict gun control that even allows for authorities to enter private homes at any time to check on proper storage of guns..

    Rest assured, as election time nears, I will be writing letters to this paper (and others across the nation ) warning gun owners to be very concerned about liberal Democrat candidates.

    Yes, I will be using direct quotes from the above posters just to show what extreme length liberals will go to push for strict gun control.

    Don't be fooled when liberals ridicule gun owners at election time as being paranoid over gun control and say......." no one favors taking away your gun "

    The posts yesterday prove otherwise !

  • GeneralMac
    February 16, 2018 at 11:04 a.m.

    The Sothern Poverty Law Center said they................." could not confirm a link between Cruz and the militia "

    That would be like Al Sharpton admitting race was not involved in a street shooting where a Black got killed by a white .

  • GeneralMac
    February 16, 2018 at 11:09 a.m.

    message from the mother of a 14 year old victim to Trump.........." get the guns out of the hands of these young kids "

    The shooter was a 19 year old MAN of legal age.