Public authorities stated that a troubled 19-year-old was carrying an AR-15 rifle as he trailed the hallways of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Marjory, Florida. He then conducted the potentially largest fatal school shooting since Sandy Hook on Feb. 14, 2018.
Nikolas Cruz, who was the school shooter, was expelled from the Florida school over disciplinary problems. Students took cover as he blasted out shot after shot from his rifle. Fire alarms then blared, students took refuge under their desks, and teachers barricaded classrooms. In total, there were 17 fatalities and 16 injuries.
Cruz was in the Broward County Sheriff’s office headquarters, in Fort Lauderdale, after he was arrested off campus. The Sun-Sentinel reported that some accounts describe Cruz as a normal teenager. However, other accounts describe him as troubled, depressed, and strange.
Trevor Hart, who knew Cruz from Spanish class, said that his former classmate talked about shooting squirrels, lizards, and frogs often after his adopted mother died in November 2017. Trevor said that Cruz appeared “a little off,” as well.
Shelby Speno, who is one of Cruz’s former neighbors, stated that public authorities were called to his classmate’s home many times. He was also seen shooting a neighbor’s chicken.
Janine Kartiganer, who is another former neighbor, said that Cruz always had his head down and always wore a hoodie. He looked quite depressed.
Scott Israel, who is a Broward County Sheriff, stated that the 17 people who were executed were both adults and students. Twelve of the shots were fired inside the school, two shots were fired outside, and one shot was in the street. Additionally, two other victims were dying of their wounds at the hospital.
The Sun-Sentinel reported that the massacre was potentially the largest fatal school shooting since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in 2012, in Connecticut. Five of the victims remained unidentified.
History of School Shootings
Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado experienced the largest school shooting in modern-day American history, in 1999. SFGate reported that survivors of the massacre still suffer from traumatic side effects of the dire experience in 2018, nearly 20 years later.
Business Insider interviewed four Columbine survivors about the aftermath of the catastrophe. SFGate reported that the survivors are attempting to work with other survivors of mass shootings to avoid future mass school shootings. Many members of the public follow media coverage closely for updates when a mass shooting grips a society. A recent example is the mass shooting in Florida.
Anne Marie Hochhalter, who is now 36, stated that she has friends who filter the news of mass shootings for her. Every recent mass shooting can trigger agonizing traumatic events again.
Hochhalter was a junior at the time of the 1999 Columbine massacre. At Columbine, two of her classmates occupied the school and took 13 lives: 12 students and one teacher. The two students, who were dubbed by the press as the Trench Coat Mafia, finally killed themselves. They shot Hochhalter in the back, which paralyzed her.
NBC news reported that someone had reported Cruz to the FBI less than six weeks before he committed one of the largest fatal school shootings in American history. However, no one at the FBI followed up on the lead.
Chris Grady said that the victims might be alive today had “the FBI done their job.” Grady is a 19-year-old senior and survivor of the school massacre in Florida.
By John Federico
Edited by Jeanette Smith
SunSentinel: Students dove under desks, teachers barricaded classrooms as gunman killed 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland
SFGate: 19 years later, Columbine High School massacre survivors say they still struggle and have debilitating anxiety
NBC News: FBI got tip on alleged Florida shooter Nikolas Cruz in January, but didn’t ‘follow protocols’
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