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It was minutes before the last class shift ended at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, USA, when the fire alarm started to sound.
Amid the confusion, shots began to be heard. Some thought they were fireworks.
But it was Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old school alumnus, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and a lot of ammunition: he ended up killing 17 people , leaving dozens injured.
With the fire alarm, the classrooms began to be evacuated. The teachers immediately realized that it was a “red code” and rushed back to the classrooms.
Some remained hidden for 40 minutes.
What they already call “The Valentine’s Massacre” is the 18th shooting in a US school. in so far this year.
“It’s a horrible situation,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, confirming the death toll.
In addition to the 17 dead, it was also reported that up to 20 people were injured, at least three in serious condition.
Police believe it was Cruz himself who blew up the fire alarm around 3 o’clock in the afternoon local time (20:00 GMT).
I wanted to take advantage of the confusion, open fire in the middle of bewilderment.
The shooting started outside the school. An enormous police deployment did not take long to arrive.
Heavily armed agents appeared on the scene with armored vehicles. Also firefighters and ambulances. And the journalists.
The helicopters of the local televisions arrived in time to show part of the evacuation of the students when still the author of the shooting was loose.
The images of frightened young students were turned around the world, with hands raised in line following the instructions of the policemen with rifles and bulletproof vests.
Some of the wounded were also seen being transported on a stretcher and how, minutes after the shooting, Cruz was arrested.
Who is the attacker?
According to the police, Cruz offered no resistance.
The young man was identified as an alumnus who had been expelled for “disciplinary reasons”.
Cruz’s conflicting behavior was well known to both teachers and students at the school.
Jim Gard, a teacher at the school, said the workers were warned that the former student was a threat and should not be allowed to go to school with a backpack.
“There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I think he was asked to leave the campus,” Gard told the Miami Herald.
A student at the center told CBS that Cruz was “a problem boy.”
And he said he had no qualms about showing the rest of the students that he always “carried arms with him.”
18 school shootings in 2018
The authorities confirmed that 12 of the victims died inside the school, two in the vicinity, one in a nearby street and two others in the hospital.
But for hours the magnitude of what happened was unknown. The official sources only spoke of “multiple dead” but nobody knew how many were talking.
What did not take long to arrive were the reactions of the politicians. President Donald Trump expressed his condolences on the social network.
My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2018
“My prayers and my condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible shooting in Florida – no child, teacher or other person should feel unsafe in an American school,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty took the opportunity to remember that the United States is a real exception in this type of incident.
“We think of the United States as an exceptional country, we are, we are the exception to the rule that mass shootings do not occur in schools, churches, concerts and other public places with alarming regularity,” Esty wrote on Twitter.
And is that this Wednesday is the eighteenth shooting that is recorded so far this year in a school in the US or its surroundings, according to an investigation by Everytwon for Gun Safety.
We think of America as an exceptional country. We are – we are the exception to the rule that mass shootings do not occur in schools, churches, concerts, and other public locations on an alarmingly regular basis.
— Elizabeth Esty (@RepEsty) February 14, 2018
Since 2013 there have been 291 shootings in the country’s schools , which take an average of one a week.
On January 24, 2017, two people died and 17 were injured at a Kentucky high school.
Several students described the minutes of panic that they experienced during the attack.
“I heard what looked like fireworks and I looked at my friend and he asked me if I had heard the same thing,” student Bailey Vosberg told CBS News.
“I immediately noticed, I did not say anything, I jumped the fence and went to the street and there were police cars and helicopters on us . “
Jeiella Dodoo, who also attends school, said she and her classmates calmly evacuated after hearing what they thought had been a routine fire alarm.
“The alarm went off, so we had to evacuate from our classes,” he said. “Then we hear shots.”
“I heard six shots and then some people started running.”
Some young students told the media that many hid in the classrooms until being rescued by the police.
“This is a terrible day for Parkland,” said Sheriff Israel speaking of the city of approximately 30,000 residents.
“My own triplets went to that school,” he added.