Florida school shooter charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder

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A man placed in handcuffs is led by police near Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following a shooting incident in Parkland, Florida. WSVN.com via REUTERS

The suspect in Wednesday’s shooting at a Florida high school that killed 17 people and injured 14 others has been apprehended and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

The shooter, who was identified as 19-year old Nikolas Cruz, was arrested in nearby Coral Springs after leaving the school premises among the fleeing crowd. Authorities say that Cruz confessed to law enforcement that he was the gunman who entered and opened fire at the school.

The shooter was armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and multiple magazines when he opened fire at the school. He purchased the weapon legally after passing a background check.

Cruz targeted Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, his former school in Parkland Florida, from where he was expelled for disciplinary reasons. The gunfire began outside the school and continued inside. The suspect fired at students in hallways and on school grounds, and he was on the loose for more than an hour.

Twelve people were killed inside the school building, two outside, and one on the street, while two victims died at the hospital.

According to the school superintendent in Broward County, Robert Runcie, there were typically two police cars on campus on a daily basis. However, the shooting occurred despite the presence of police officers at the school

The school’s assistant football coach, Aaron Feis, was rushed to the hospital for surgery but later died of the gunshot wound. He threw himself in front of students as the shooter opened fire at the school.

“He died the same way he lived — he put himself second,” Stoneman Douglas spokeswoman Denise Lehtio said. “He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”

Cruz is being held without bail after a brief hearing Thursday. His lawyer described him as a “deeply disturbed, emotionally broken” young man. Cruz was adopted, and his adoptive mother died in November. He was staying with the family of an acquaintance from the high school who allowed him to stay at their home.