The suspect in a shooting rampage at a Florida School that reportedly left “numerous” people dead, has been preliminarily identified as 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, media reported, citing officials.
The gunman reportedly had a rifle and possibly a handgun as he entered the school on Wednesday afternoon, before opening fire.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told media that the man was a former student of the school.
The attacker has been identified as 19-year-old Nicolas Cruz, according to AFP and CBS News reports, citing officials with the knowledge of the investigation.
The shooter was “expelled for disciplinary reasons,” Israel said during a media briefing where he confirmed the identity of the suspect. It is yet unclear if Cruz, who was born in September, 1998, was enrolled in any other school after dropping out from Douglas High.
Cruz was armed with an AR-15 rifle when he entered the school, leaving “countless magazines” at the scene, Israel said, adding that it is still unclear if he had any other weapon. Cruz opened fire outside the school, killing two people near the building and one person on the street. Twelve more people were fatally shot inside. Another two succumbed to their wounds in hospital, the sheriff said, adding that the death toll may still rise.
Cruz was apprehended off-campus about an hour after the shooting unfolded, Scott said, adding that the teenager did not attempt to resist the arrest.
The gunman did not sustain any significant injuries.
Cruz had been banned from campus for making threats in the past, the Miami Herald reported, citing a teacher at the school.
Math teacher Jim Gard, interviewed by the newspaper, said the teachers were warned not to allow Cruz walk onto campus with a backpack.
“There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus,” Gard said.
Cruz was well known to have troubles with “every single teacher” at the school, a senior student told CBS.
“Every single teacher he ever had, there was a problem,” the unnamed student said.
CBS News reported that prior to the attack Cruz triggered the fire alarm, which caused panic.
Witnesses’ reports appear to confirm this timeline. One of the students who was locked inside during the incident told CBS News that the school had already conducted a fire drill in the morning, so the students were surprised at what they thought was another one.
The suspect reportedly attempted to flee the scene by blending in with other students.
Accounts by senior students who spoke to media indicate that the suspect was known to have a stock of weapons at home and reportedly posted photos with firearms on social media.
Israel said the police are now “dissecting” the suspect’s social media accounts, adding that “very disturbing things come to mind.”
His motives are unknown so far.