Florida mass shooting: 17 killed as teenage ex-student opens fire at high school

At least 17 people have been killed after an expelled student went on a shooting rampage at his former high school in Florida.

Teachers and students barricaded themselves in classrooms and hid behind tables as police swarmed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day.

Dramatic footage showed terrified pupils being led away from the school as officers searched for the “heavily armed” suspect at about 4pm local time (9pm GMT).

The suspect, 19-year-old ex-student Nikolas Cruz, was detained shortly after the attack and bundled into the back of a police car by a group of officers. Footage showed him wearing a burgundy top and jeans.

Cruz, who was expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons, was described by former classmates as a troubled “outcast” who was obsessed with guns. 

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said: “I’m saddened to say that 17 people lost their lives”.

He also said between 14 and 18 other people were injured in the attack, which was the 18th school shooting in the US this year.

Suspect Nikolas Cruz posed with guns for pictures on his now-deleted Instagram page (Instagram)

The gunman reportedly set fire alarms off to cause confusion and draw students into halls before launching his attack.

Moment Florida school shooting suspect is arrested

11th grade student Victoria Adams described desperately trying to climb a fence out of the school grounds after hearing a round of shots.

She said: “I just hear boom, boom, boom and I was just like what the heck was that?  That can’t be anything other than a gunshot.  So, I started running. I am not about to be shot. 

She said everyone was trying to climb the same fence but there wasn’t enough space.

“People were pulling me down, like scratches on me,” she added. “But I hopped the fence, I just started running toward the shopping centre over there.”

Live footage from the scene showed students being evacuated from the school with their hands behind their heads.

One student at the school told CNN: “We all thought it was a fire drill because we had one previously today. And we thought it was so no one was that nervous, but then word started going around that it was shots and not just like something else, everyone just started running towards the canal.”

The president tweeted: “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting.

“No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.”

Parent John Obin said his son, a student at the school, was in class when he heard several shots.

Students were marched out of the school while police searched for the attacker (Getty Images)

The father said his son advised that teachers quickly rushed students out of the school.

“This is a really good school, and now it’s like a war zone,” Mr Obin said.

Coral Springs Police said earlier on Twitter that the school had been locked down and that students and teachers inside should remain barricaded until police reached them.

Outside, television footage showed two people on stretchers and another person being treated on the ground near the school.

Paramedics were treating those who appeared to be students with injuries.

A former student who was at the school visiting a teacher said: “Kids were freaking out, some kids froze.  Some kids were on their phones, a lot were on their phones just trying to Snapchat everything, because they thought it was a joke and it wasn’t.”

She added: “There was kids freaking out, students freaking out.”

Maths teacher Jim Gard told the Miami Herald that Cruz had been banned from returning to campus while carrying a backpack.

“There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus,” Mr Gard said.

He claimed administrators had sent an email to teachers warning them about Cruz.

Chad Williams, 18, a senior at the school, remembered Cruz as a troubled classmate from middle school. He said Cruz would set off the fire alarm, day after day, and finally got expelled in the eighth grade.

More recently, Williams claims he saw Cruz carrying several publications about guns when they ran into each other at the high school.

“He was crazy about guns,” Williams told Reuters. “He was kind of an outcast. He didn’t have many friends. He would do anything crazy for a laugh, but he was trouble.”

Stars including Kim Kardashian West, Reece Witherspoon and Ellen DeGeneres were quick to condemn the attack and call on US authorities to impose tighter gun laws to prevent more school shootings.

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