Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says there are multiple casualties in a shooting at a high school in South Florida. (Feb. 14)
A former student went on a shooting rampage at a Florida high school on Wednesday, leaving multiple fatalities while panicked students barricaded themselves inside classrooms and frantic parents raced to the scene.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said at least 14 victims have been taken to area hospitals with varying wounds. It was unclear how many of those survived.
The gunman was taken into custody nearly two hours after the shooting was reported, authorities said.
Authorities and SWAT officers are still clearing the school and say it is not safe, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference.
The gunman, who hasn’t been officially identified, is about 18 years old and was arrested off the school’s campus then taken to a local hospital, Israel said. Flanked by officers, the suspect was escorted into a police station wearing a hospital gown.
“This is catastrophic,” Israel said. “There are really no words.”
The shooting happened about 2 p.m. at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which is about 30 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale, according to the Coral Springs Police Department.
Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said “multiple fatalities” have been reported.
“It’s a horrific situation. It’s just a horrible day for us,” he said. “…This is a day we prayed would never happen in our county.”
He said every high school in the county has a police presence, adding there are typically two officers at every school.
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Margate Fire Chief Dan Booker told the Miami Herald that the shooting was a mass casualty incident. He said more than 20 were hurt, although he could not confirm exactly how many have been injured or how many were shot.
The school district released a statement explaining the shooting happened close to dismissal time. When students heard what sounded like gunfire, the school was placed on lockdown.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (Photo: Google Maps)
Cameras captured authorities taking a man into custody and to a local hospital. Police described the gunman as someone who possibly attended the school and was a member of the JROTC program. Authorities said he was wearing a hoodie and has red hair.
Some students and teachers who fled the school told reporters they knew the former student and that he had guns. Math teacher Jim Gard told the Herald he taught the suspect last year, who he said was troubled.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” Gard told the newspaper. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”
Students said chaos ensued when a fire alarm sounded in the school — then the gunfire started.
Television footage showed the terrifying moments outside the school. Students ran single file from the building with their hands in the air — throwing backpacks into a large pile and huddling under trees across the street.
As students scrambled to safety, law enforcers with weapons drawn approached the building.
Worried parents crowded around the the school, some asking television crews what they should do to get information on their child, and students cried when they were reunited with their mothers and fathers. Some of the injured were treated on…