A former student went on a shooting rampage at a Florida high school Wednesday, leaving 17 dead while panicked students barricaded themselves inside classrooms and frantic parents raced to the scene.
Some of those mothers and fathers were still waiting into the night for word whether their child survived the massacre. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said five of the 17 victims have still not been identified as of 9:30 p.m. ET — about seven hours after the shooting.
The gunman, who had been expelled and didn’t graduate, was identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz. Israel said Cruz was armed with “countless” magazines and an AR-15-style rifle.
Cruz was arrested a short distance from the school near a home, a law enforcement official who is not authorized to comment publicly told USA TODAY. Students recognized the suspect during the assault, he said.
Flanked by officers, the suspect was later escorted into a police station wearing a hospital gown.
“Another horrific day, a detestable day,” Israel said. “I’m absolutely sick to my stomach to see children who go to school armed with backpacks and pencils lose their lives.”
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.
The 17 dead include students and adults, Israel said. Others were injured and taken to local hospitals, including at least 14 who were treated at Broward Health Medical Center and Broward Health North in Deerfield Beach.
Several were in critical condition Wednesday night.
He wore a gas mask and used smoke grenades “so the kids would come out in the hallways and thus, he had the opportunity with crowded hallways to start picking off people,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told MSNBC.
Student Rebecca Bogart, 17, wasn’t sure whether the reports of shooting were a drill at first.
The school had a fire drill earlier that day, and she knew it was somewhat common to do an active shooter drill.
It wasn’t until the windows of her first floor classroom shattered and Bogart saw a bullet near the shades did she understand what was happening.
“It was really hard to be calm,” Bogart said. “My friend was holding my hand.”
Bogart said that’s what she and her classmates tried to do as they hid from the shooter.
Though she couldn’t see them from under the teacher’s desk where she was hiding, Bogart said she could hear four of her classmates screaming in pain from injuries.
She added she didn’t know whether they had been shot.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says there are multiple casualties in a shooting at a high school in South Florida. (Feb. 14) AP
When SWAT officers entered the classroom, they escorted students out. As Bogart walked down the hall, she saw students covered in blood.
Officers told the students to get as far away as possible. Bogart said she walked miles before stopping to get picked up by her father.
“I’m still in shock right now,” she said.
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.
The gunman was expelled from the school for “disciplinary reasons,” but Israel didn’t elaborate.
Cameras captured authorities taking Cruz into custody and to a local hospital. Police said the gunman was a member of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) student military program.
Cruz would joke about shooting people or shooting up establishments, she said. At the time, she thought it was normal, violent teenage jokes, she said. Cruz would also talk a lot about having guns and using them in different situations, she said.
Math teacher Jim Gard told the Miami 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.”
Israel said authorities were scouring through anything that would lead them to a motive in the tragedy, including a website and social media pages.
Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said it was a dark day in the county’s history.
“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.
Worried parents crowded around 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 sidewalks and loaded into ambulances.
Twelve of the victims were found inside the school, two were killed outside, and two others died in the hospital. One additional person was killed off the school’s campus, Israel said.
Melissa Falkowski, a teacher at the school, told CNN she hid with her students in a closet until law enforcement cleared them. Footage on local television stations showed SWAT officers entering a classroom with guns drawn and students shaking and crying as they held up their hands.
The shooting rekindled the debate over gun laws, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott was asked multiple times at a 9 p.m. news conference whether this tragedy marked a needed change.
Scott said there is a time and place for that conversation but this was not it, adding he concluded the whole incident was just “pure evil.”
The state has pledged to pay for funeral costs for the victims and cover all counseling.
The White House also released a statement as the tragedy was unfolding.
“The president has been made aware of the school shooting in Florida,” deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said. “We are monitoring the situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.”
The incident comes just weeks after a rampage at a rural Kentucky high school. A 15-year-old faces two counts of murder and 12 counts of first-degree assault after police said he killed two and wounded more than a dozen others in a shooting spree at Marshall County High School in Benton.
There have been at least six school shootings in 2018.
Boxer Gervonta Davis Involved in Minor Plane Crash, Documents Aftermath
Gervonta Davis just, miraculously, walked away from a plane crash relatively unscathed — and it sounds like what’s hurting him the most in the aftermath are his feet … and his caboose.
The professional boxer went live Saturday to document a terrifying encounter he says he and his crew had just gone through after boarding a private jet … which apparently failed to properly take off and crash landed back down to the airport grounds it was trying to leave.
Thankfully, it doesn’t appear the aircraft got very far up before coming back down to Earth — because Gervonta and other passengers seemed more or less okay … with their health and bodies intact.
That’s not to say Gervonta wasn’t feeling some hurt afterwards — on his live feed, he noted that his booty was aching like no other … this while he wrapped his feet in gauze. He’s pretty jovial about the whole thing, which is great to see, but this could’ve easily been way worse.
Gervonta also was able to get some shots of the downed plane, and it sure looks like something went wrong internally. There were also fire engines that showed up on the scene to evaluate the damage and tend to anyone’s injuries. Again, though, most everyone seems to be fine … which is absolutely incredible, because it appears there were even children aboard, based on a photo Gervonta posted shortly before getting on his flight. His video doesn’t capture any kids, though.
It’s unclear what exactly caused the malfunction — but you can hear Gervonta and his friends speculate on what happened … seems like there might’ve been some overheating of some sort. They also appear to be discussing some of the flight maneuvers the pilot(s) were using in the air … and the group seems to think that may have attributed to it going down.
Stay tuned while we here at Prestige try to get a hold of Gervonta’s team for more answers.
Keyshia Cole’s Mom, Frankie Lons, Has Passed Away
Frankie Lons, the vibrant mother of singer Keyshia Cole, who became a popular figure after appearing on Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is in 2006, has passed away.
News of her death surfaced on Monday morning (July 19). Cole’s younger sister, Elite, who appeared on The Way It Is as well, confirmed the sad news. She took to her InstaStories to write, “Worse pain ever….to see my mama in a body bag on her birthday! My heart so f–kin broke.”
According to Cole’s brother Sam, said Lons relapsed and overdosed at her home on Sunday while celebrating her birthday.
Last year, Cole shared that Lons, who struggled with drugs off and on, checked into rehab and in February would have been there for 30 days. She was hopeful that her mom would finally be able to stay sober and be as healthy as possible for her children.
“Do you believe in the power of love?” she wrote alongside a photo of her next to her mom.”What about lack thereof? 50/50 There’s strength in knowing there’s something or someone you can always lean back on. Someone to catch u when u fall. I’ve been being strong for you, hoping I’ll get a chance to feel that feeling from you.”
Cole and her older sister, Neffeteria, haven’t spoken publicly on the news. During Cole’s latest reality series on BET, Keyshia Cole My New Life in 2019, the singer and Lons had a conversation about the possibility of her not being around, which Cole said, understandably, alarmed her.
“Some things happen out there in the streets and it scares a child, the thought,” Cole said.
“One day chicken the next day feathers. If I die today you’re going to move on and you’ve got to make it. You’ve got to live for Keyshia,” Lons replied. “You have to live for you and your family not nobody else. You don’t have to do nothin’ but die and pay taxes, but you have to move on if anything happens to me. At the end of the day you’ll see me later. Up there.”
She added, “I’m a be always where you can find me. Even when God calls me. A mother’s love will always protect you.”
Tennis Player Coco Gauff Tests Positive For COVID-19, Will Not Attend Olympics
17-year-old tennis player Cori “Coco” Gauff was slated to be on the U.S. tennis team at the upcoming Olympic Games, but has withdrawn after testing positive for COVID-19.
She broke the news via social media.
“I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for COVID and won’t be able to play in the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” she wrote in a note. “It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future.” At #25, Gauff is the youngest player with a Women’s Tennis Association ranking in the top 100 .
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At 15, Gauff shocked the sports world when she beat tennis icon Venus Williams in the opening round of Wimbledon in 2019. She then bested Williams again during her Australian Open debut in January 2020 and defeated Naomi Osaka at the same event.
Gauff finished her statement by wishing all of her fellow athletes well. “I want to wish TEAM USA best of luck and a safe game for every Olympian and the entire Olympic family.”
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