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UPDATE: Hundreds At Vigil Mourn Florida School Shooting Victims

Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been booked on 17 charges of premeditated murder at Broward County’s Main Jail in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

THE LATEST on a deadly school shooting at a Florida high school (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

Hundreds of people are attending a vigil for the 17 victims of a school shooting in Florida.

The vigil Thursday night began with a moment of silence for those slain at the school in Parkland. Audible sobs rose from the crowd as the names of victims were read.

Dressed in the school’s colors, some held flowers while others wielded signs asking for action to fight school violence, including gun control. Members of the crowd spontaneously started shouting “no more guns, no more guns” at one point.

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5:30 p.m.

A Florida sheriff says the suspect in a high school shooting that killed 17 people fired into five classrooms before dropping his rifle and fleeing on foot.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz fired into three rooms on the second floor of the school in Parkland, then went back and fired again into two of those rooms. He says the shooter fired into one other room on that floor before moving to the third floor and shooting one person in a classroom there.

The sheriff says the gunman then dropped his rifle and backpack containing extra ammunition and ran out of the school. As he crossed fields, he tried to blend in with fleeing students.

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5:15 p.m.

A Florida sheriff says the suspect in a school shooting that killed 17 people stopped at fast food restaurants after the attack.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference Thursday that Nikolas Cruz tried to mix in with a group of students fleeing the school. The sheriff says he then headed to a Wal-Mart and bought a drink at a Subway restaurant before walking to a McDonald’s.

Israel says Cruz was confronted by a police officer and taken into custody about 40 minutes after leaving the McDonald’s.

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4 p.m.

A Broward County Sheriff’s Office report says Nikolas Cruz confessed to being the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

According to the report, he told interrogating officers that he “began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on school grounds” on Wednesday afternoon.

The report adds that Cruz told officers he “brought additional loaded magazines to the school campus and kept them hidden in a backpack until he got on campus to begin his assault.”

Cruz told investigators that as students began to flee, he decided to discard his AR-15 rifle and a vest he was wearing so he could blend in with the crowd. Police recovered the rifle and the vest.

The police report adds that Cruz purchased the rifle in February 2017, but does not say where it was purchased.

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Watch: President Trump please do something, said a victim’s mother. 

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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner‘s statement on Parkland, Florida school shooting

“Like others, I am heartbroken by Wednesday’s senseless violence at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people lost their lives at the hands of a teenager with an AR-15 rifle according to investigators. Yesterday’s bloody rampage was this country’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012,” Mayor Turner said in a statement.

“We are failing our children by not protecting them from these preventable acts of gun violence inside schools or other institutions of learning. While I offer my condolences and prayers to the victims and their loved ones, faith without works is dead. Our country and our communities must do more by enacting sensible legislation and policies, lest we grow numb to these horrific acts while we wait and wonder when the next one will take place,” Turner said.

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‘No known ties’ between Cruz and supremacists

A law enforcement official says he knows of “no known ties” between the suspect who confessed to a deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school and a white supremacist group.

Lt. Grady Jordan is a spokesman for the Leon County Sheriff’s Office in Tallahassee, where the white nationalist militia known as the Republic of Florida is based. Jordan said Thursday that his office has arrested militia leader Jordan Jereb at least four times since January 2014 and has been monitoring the group’s membership.

He says his office has “very solid” information on the group and “there’s no known ties that we have that we can connect” 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz with the group.

Jereb told The Associated Press earlier Thursday that Cruz was a member and participated in paramilitary drills in Tallahassee.

Jereb said he didn’t know Cruz personally and that “he acted on his own behalf of what he just did and he’s solely responsible for what he just did.”

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3:25 p.m.

An attorney for the 19-year-old Florida man accused of killing 17 people at a high school says her client is sad and remorseful.

Public defender Melisa McNeill told reporters Thursday that Nikolas Cruz is fully aware of what’s going on but he’s also just a “broken human being.” McNeill spoke after a judge ordered Cruz held without bond. She had her arm around Cruz during the brief hearing.

She became emotional while speaking to reporters, saying she’s fully aware of the impact the shooting has had on the community.

Cruz is accused of opening fire Wednesday afternoon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

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A terrified student live-tweeted the Florida school shooting

Aidan Minoff told the Miami Herald that after the school’s fire alarm went off and he heard a series of popping sounds, he and other students were herded into a classroom.

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2:25 p.m.

Two federal law enforcement officials say the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle used in the deadly rampage at a high school was purchased legally at Sunrise Tactical Supply in Florida.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were briefed on the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly.

19 year-old Nikolas Cruz is accused of opening fire Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, killing 17 people. A judge Thursday afternoon ordered him to be held without bond on 17 counts of murder.

Associated Press writer Sadie Gurman reported from Washington. Mike Balsamo reported from Los Angeles.

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2:05 p.m.

A Florida judge has ordered that the suspect in a deadly shooting rampage at a high school will be held without bond on 17 counts of murder.

Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz was wearing an orange jumpsuit with his hands cuffed at his waist during the Thursday afternoon hearing. His attorney did not contest the order and had her arm around Cruz during the brief court appearance.

Cruz is accused of opening fire Wednesday afternoon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, killing 17 people.

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12:55 p.m.

A Mississippi bail bondsman named Benjamin Bennight says he alerted the FBI last September after someone using the screen name “Nikolas Cruz” posted a comment on his YouTube channel saying: “Im going to be a professional school shooter.”

Bennight explains in a video post that he flagged it for YouTube and called an FBI office in Mississippi to report it. He says FBI agents visited him the next day.

Agent Rob Lasky says the agency did a database review but couldn’t determine the time, location or true identity of the person making the comment.

Bennight says the FBI came calling again within hours of the shooting. He says “they’re going to have to get with YouTube about where the comment originated, but I think they already know.”

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12:50 p.m.

The leader of a white nationalist militia says Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was a member of his group and participated in paramilitary drills in Tallahassee.

Jordan Jereb told The Associated Press on Thursday that his group wants Florida to become its own white ethno-state. He said his group holds “spontaneous random demonstrations” and tries not to participate in the modern world.

Jereb said he didn’t know Cruz personally and that “he acted on his own behalf of what he just did and he’s solely responsible for what he just did.”

He also said he had “trouble with a girl” and he believed the timing of the attack, carried out on Valentine’s Day, wasn’t a coincidence.

Nineteen-year-old Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the shooting.

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An orphaned 19-year-old with a troubled past and his own AR-15 rifle was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder Thursday morning following the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in five years.

Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he’s already told House Speaker Paul Ryan that “if someone is mentally ill, he should not have access to a gun.” Broward County Schools Superintendent Rob Runcie said “now is the time to have a real conversation about gun control legislation,” and if adults can’t manage that in their lifetimes, he said students will do it.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel called for giving law enforcement more power to detain people who make threats.

“What I’m asking our lawmakers to do is go back to places like Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., to give police the power,” the sheriff said, to detain people who make graphic threats or post disturbing material online, and bring them involuntarily to mental health professionals to be examined.

The sheriff said law enforcement can certainly visit gun owners whose mental health is questioned, “whether they have a gun legally or not.”

President Donald Trump said he’s making plans to meet with families and local officials, and to continue coordinating the federal response.

The Dollar Tree retail chain confirms that the Florida high school shooting suspect worked at their store in Parkland.

In a Thursday statement, the Dollar Tree says they’ll share any information about 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz with local and federal officials that may help with the investigation. The retailer also expressed sympathy for the Parkland community and those affected by the attack.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he wants the Justice Department to study how mental illness and gun violence intersect, to better understand how law enforcement can use existing laws to intervene before school shootings begin.

“It cannot be denied that something dangerous and unhealthy is happening in our country,” Sessions told a group of sheriffs in Washington. In “every one of these cases, we’ve had advance indications and perhaps we haven’t been effective enough in intervening.”

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Deputy accidentally fires gun at private school

A sheriff’s deputy responding to a report of gunfire at a private school near the site of a mass shooting a Florida high school accidentally fired his gun, injuring his leg.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that the deputy was among law enforcement officers responding to reports of shots being fired at North Broward Preparatory School on Thursday morning. He was treated for his injuries at the scene and no one else was injured.

In the meantime, all Broward County high schools are on a “code yellow,” which means students should remain in classrooms with doors locked. Officials said this is precautionary following the Wednesday afternoon shooting.

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WATCH: President Donald Trump addresses the nation on Florida school shooting.

President Donald Trump says Wednesday’s mass shooting turned a Florida school into a “scene of terrible violence, hatred and evil.”

Trump is addressing the nation a day after the shooting that killed at least 17 people. The president was silent on the issue of gun control. Earlier Thursday, he suggested the suspect was “mentally disturbed.”

Trump says the entire nation “with one heavy heart” is praying for the victims and their families.

An orphaned 19-year-old with a troubled past and his own AR-15 rifle was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder Thursday morning following the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in five years.

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10:55 a.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he’ll sit down with state leaders and work on how they can make sure people with mental illness aren’t able to get guns.

Scott spoke Thursday a day after a shooting left 17 people dead at a high school. He said leaders will look at how they can make sure something like that never happens again.

FBI agent Rob Lasky says the FBI investigated a 2017 YouTube comment that said “I’m going to be a professional school shooter”; but the agency couldn’t identify the person making the comment.

Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the Wednesday afternoon shooting in Parkland, Florida.

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8:55 a.m.

A school district superintendent choked up during a television interview while discussing the scene at a Florida High School where 17 people were killed during a shooting rampage shortly before dismissal time.

Broward County school district Superintendent Robert Runcie told WSVN on Thursday morning that seeing the bodies strewn on floors inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School “was absolutely horrific.”

A tearful Runcie said the scene was “nothing like I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

Runcie said his thoughts are with the parents and families whose children didn’t come home from school Wednesday.

Former student, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was booked into jail early Thursday after being questioned by authorities through the night. He’s charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

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8:40 a.m.

An attorney representing the family who had taken in Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz says they’re shocked by what happened and had no idea he was planning anything.

Jim Lewis told The Associated Press on Thursday that Cruz began living with the family after his mother died in November. He said Cruz was quiet and very respectful but also sad.

Lewis says Cruz had an AR-15 rifle in the home with them but it was kept in a locked cabinet.

Lewis says the family — who he declined to identify — has been cooperating with law enforcement, who have been searching their home. He also said the family’s own son, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was at the school when the shooting happened and is shaken up by it.

Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the Wednesday afternoon shooting in Parkland, Florida.

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Florida shooter Nikolas Cruz

8:40 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says it’s time to keep mourning parents of the victims of the school shooting in Florida in “our thoughts and prayers,” not to discuss how to deal with gun violence.

Tillerson, speaking during a visit to Lebanon during his Mideast tour, called it a “horrific school shooting.” At least 17 children were shot at high school in Florida. The 19-year old suspect is custody.

Responding to a reporter’s question about how the U.S. talks to foreign countries about reducing violence while it is grappling with school violence and other mass shootings at home, Tillerson said it was time to pray for the victims.

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8:30 a.m.

A law enforcement official is telling The Associated Press that a former student who killed 17 people at a Florida school legally purchased his AR-15 rifle about a year ago.

The official is familiar with the investigation into the school shooting but not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Federal law allows people 18 and over to legally purchase long guns. At 21, people can legally buy handguns from a licensed dealer.

Associated Press writer Sadie Gurman reported from Washington.

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7:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump says it appears the suspect in Florida’s deadly school shooting was “mentally disturbed.”

Trump tweeted Thursday about the shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school. A former student opened fire Wednesday with an AR-15 rifle, killing 17 people. The 19-year-old was charged Thursday morning.

Trump says: “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!”

The president offered sympathy in another tweet Wednesday and said he spoke with Florida’s governor, but he has not addressed the nation.

Trump has cited mental health before as a cause for mass shootings, dismissing questions about gun control.

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7:30 a.m.

Grief counselors are being made available to students and staff after a mass shooting at their Florida high school killed 17 people and left 14 others hospitalized with wounds and injuries.

The Broward County school district says counseling will be offered at five locations for anyone affected by Wednesday afternoon’s shooting. But Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, now a crime scene, will remain closed through the President’s Day weekend.

The suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He was arrested about two miles from the school shortly after the shooting and initially taken to a hospital with breathing problems. Cruz was questioned overnight and booked into the Broward County Jail early Thursday.

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7:10 a.m.

Pope Francis is sending his condolences to the victims of the school shooting in Florida and praying that “such senseless acts of violence may cease.”

The Vatican says Francis sent a telegram Thursday to the archbishop of Miami saying he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the “devastating attack.”

Francis said he was praying for the dead and wounded and those who are grieving.

A former student at the Parkland, Florida high school opened fire Wednesday with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people.

Francis has frequently lashed out at gun manufacturers, calling them “merchants of death.” During his 2015 speech to the U.S. Congress, he called for an end to the arms trade, which he said was fueled by a quest for “money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.”

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7:05 a.m.

The 19-year-old suspect in a deadly school shooting in Florida has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Nikolas Jacob Cruz was booked into the Broward County Jail early Thursday, still wearing the hospital gown he was given after being treated for labored breathing following his arrest. He was later questioned overnight before being booked into jail.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said Cruz was a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which is a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. He is accused of entering the campus just before school was dismissed on Wednesday afternoon and opening fire on students and teachers.

Officials said another 14 people have been treated at area hospitals.

Cruz, who is listed at 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds, is being held without bond. Jail records don’t list an attorney for him.

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6:55 a.m.

A sheriff said the bodies of 12 of the 17 victims in a mass shooting at a Florida high school were found inside the building.

A statement from Broward Sheriff Scott Israel says two other bodies were discovered outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, another was found a short distance away along a local road and two others died at a hospital.

Dr. Evan Boyer, the medical director at Broward Health North’s Department of Emergency Medicine, told reporters that the suspect was among 17 patients taken to local hospitals after the shooting.

Shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was initially taken by ambulance to Broward North hospital for treatment for labored breathing after his arrest. Then he was taken to sheriff’s headquarters for questioning overnight. He was still wearing a hospital gown when he was brought to the Broward County Jail in Fort Lauderdale for booking Thursday.

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6:15 a.m.

The 19-year-old suspect in a deadly rampage at a Florida high school is being booked into jail after being questioned for hours by state and federal authorities.

Television footage showed Nikolas Cruz being escorted by sheriff’s deputies from the Broward Sheriff’s headquarters to the county jail in Fort Lauderdale early Thursday morning.

Seventeen people were killed as gunfire erupted at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School just before classes ended Wednesday afternoon.

Cruz was captured in a quiet neighborhood about two miles from the school. Sheriff’s officials said in an email that Cruz was initially taken to a hospital for labored breathing before being questioned at sheriff’s headquarters.

Counselors are being made available for students, teachers and staff, but the school will remain closed as an investigation continues.

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1 a.m.

Just before the shooting broke out, some students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School thought they were having another fire drill.

Such an exercise had forced them to leave their classrooms hours earlier. So when the alarm went off Wednesday afternoon shortly before they were to be dismissed, they once again filed out into the hallways.

That’s when police say 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.

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