A 19-year-old man who had been expelled from his Florida high school was held on 17 counts of murder on Thursday, the morning after authorities say he opened fire at the school, unleashing one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.
The ex-student, identified as Nikolas Cruz, 19, walked into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday and opened fire on students and teachers, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. Police believe he acted alone.
Cruz was being held on 17 counts of premeditated murder, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s website.
Cruz was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and had multiple ammunition magazines when he surrendered to officers in a nearby residential area, police said. He loved guns and was expelled for unspecified disciplinary reasons, police and former classmates said.
The shooting in a community about 45 miles (72 km) north of Miami was the 18th in a U.S. school this year, according to gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety, continuing a troubling pattern that has played out over the past few years.
It was the second deadliest shooting in a U.S. public elementary or high school after the 2012 massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
The deadliest school shooting in U.S. history was at Virginia Tech in 2007, when 32 people were killed.
The Florida shootings stirred the long-simmering U.S. debate on the right to bear arms, which are protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. (Reuters)