Florida resident is suspect for deadliest mass shooting in American history


Nikolas Cruz being arrested after police find him walking through a residential area.

At 2:19 PM on Wednesday, February 14, Nikolas Cruz arrived at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and pulled the fire alarm to lure hundreds of students into the vacant hallways. Cruz had an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle in hand to open fire on the students.

According to authorities and students who witnessed the shooting, Cruz shot at people in five classrooms on the first and second levels of the freshman building. Douglas High School is a multi-building campus and has a separate building for each class. When he was done shooting, Cruz discarded the rifle, a vest he was wearing and the ammunition used in the shooting into a stairwell. Blending in with the crowds of students evacuating the building, Cruz was able to leave the scene before authorities could arrest him.

An hour after the initial shooting, police arrested him without incident as he was walking in a residential area at 3:41 PM. Cruz was reported to have walked into a nearby Walmart and buy a drink at the Subway inside. He then stopped at a McDonald’s before police found him in the residential area.

While Cruz was walking through the residential area, police officer Michael Leonard reported spotting someone who looked like the described suspect. “He looked like a typical high school student, and for a quick moment I thought, could this be the person who I need to stop?” said Leonard according to the New York Times.

With 17 deaths, the Douglas High School shooting is now known as one of the deadliest school shootings in America’s history. There were a total of 14 students and three faculty members killed. Alyssa Alhadeff 14, Scott Biegel 35, Martin Duque Anguiano 14, Nicholas Dworet 17, Aaron Feis 37, Jaime Guttenberg 14, Chris Hixon 49, Luke Hoyer 15, Cara Loughran 14, Gina Montalto 14, Joaquin Oliver 17, Alaina Petty 14, Meadow Pollack 18, Helena Ramsay 17, Alex Schachter 14, Carmen Schentrup 16 and Peter Wang 15 were the victims of the shooting.

“Helena was a smart, kind-hearted, and thoughtful person. She was deeply loved and loved others even more so. Though she was somewhat reserved, she had a relentless motivation towards her academic studies, and her soft warm demeanor brought the best out in all who knew her. She was so brilliant and witty, and I’m still wrestling with the idea that she is actually gone.” Curtis Page Jr. said in a Facebook post made about Ramsay who would have graduated this year.

Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder – one for each of the students and faculty members killed in the mass shooting. He was being held without bond at the main Broward County Jail and was under suicide watch according to Gordon Weekes, the county’s chief assistant public defender.

In research done on the specifics of the shooting, a federal law enforcement official said that the assault rifle used in the event was purchased legally at Sunrise Tactical Supply in Florida. Cruz purchased the gun in February of 2017, a year before the shooting occurred. Florida laws make it easier to purchase an AR-15 than a normal handgun which is why Cruz was in possession of the assault rifle.

Since the shooting occurred, two high school students, Cole Carlberg 16 and Joshua Schechter 16, in New York were arrested for making threats about ‘gunning down’ their school in Brooklyn. Carlberg turned himself in and Schechter was picked up by police after receiving a 911 call on Thursday, February 15 at 9:00 AM. Both were charged with making terroristic threats, aggravated harassment, and criminal possession of a weapon according to New York police sergeant, Brendan Ryan.

Authorities have started taking action in hopes to combat any future school shootings or tragedies. Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have also been speaking out about their safety being violated. They have held rallies in many states speaking on behalf of the students and faculty members that lost their lives in the mass shooting.