At least 17 dead after high school shooting in Florida

Suspect in custody and thousands of students evacuated from school after attack

At least 17 people have died after a teenage gunman opened fire at his former high school in southern Florida on Wednesday.

Thousands of students were evacuated from the school after the attack took place, some carried out in stretchers.

The suspect has been named as 19-year-old Nicolas Cruz, who was previously expelled from the school.

The incident happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a town about 30 miles north of Fort Lauderdale, shortly before 3pm, as the school day was coming to a close.


The suspect was found off-campus at the nearby town of Coral Springs. He was taken into custody by police and transferred to a nearby hospital.

‘No warnings, no threats’

Broward County school superintendent Robert Runcie said police had received "no warnings, no threats", about an imminent attack. "It's a day that you pray, every day, that we will never have to see. I ask the community for their prayers, their support for these children and their families. We are going to do whatever we can to come together as a community to come through this."

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is a large facility of about 3,000 students.

President Donald Trump said his thoughts and prayers were with those affected. "My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting," he tweeted. "No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school."

The president and the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, spoke by phone to Florida'a governor Rick Scott shortly after the attack, as well as to various state and local officials. The president offered federal assistance to the governor, the White House said.

Wednesday's gun attack, which took place on St Valentine's Day, is the fourth fatal gun incident to take place at an American school in 2018. Last month a student at a Kentucky high school shot 16 people, killing two other 15-year-olds.

Last year, the US experienced several mass shootings. In October, a gunman killed 58 people and injured hundreds more when he opened fire from a Las Vegas hotel, targeting concertgoers.

A month later, 26 people were killed in a church in Southern Springs, near San Antonio, Texas, when a 26-year-old local man opened fire.

"It's catastrophic. There really are no words," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said as he updated the media on the attack.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent