A gunman opened fire at a Florida high school Wednesday evening, leaving at least 17 people dead and more than a dozen injured before he was arrested by police.
The violence erupted at the end of the school day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, about 45 miles north of Miami, Reuters reports.
Live television footage showed students streaming out of the building as dozens of police and emergency services personnel swarmed the area.
The gunman was identified as Nikolas Cruz, 19, who previously attended the school and was expelled for unspecified disciplinary reasons, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news briefing.
“It’s catastrophic,” he said. “There really are no words.”
Cruz is said to have surrendered to police without a struggle.
Staff and students told local media that a fire alarm went off around the time the shooting started, sparking chaos as some 3,000 students at the school first headed into hallways before teachers herded them back into classrooms, to seek shelter in closets.
Wednesday’s incident marked the 18th shooting in a US school so far this year, according to gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety.
That tally includes suicides and incidents when no one was injured, as well as the January incident when a 15-year-old gunman killed two students at a Benton, Kentucky, high school.
More than five years have passed since a gunman killed 20 first graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, stirring the long US debate about gun rights, which are protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, Reuters noted.
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