At least 17 dead after mass shooting at Florida High School

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Women embrace in a waiting area for parents of students after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018. (PHOTO: AP)

— Broward County Sheriff reports at least 17 dead, 14 wounded in shooting.
— The shooting suspect in custody is identified as former student Nikolas Cruz.
— Shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland began around 2:30 p.m. EST.
— This is the 18th school shooting in the U.S. since 2018 began.

A federal official has identified the Florida school shooting suspect as Nikolas Cruz.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The official says he had been briefed on the investigation into the shooting at the South Florida high school, but was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

A shooting at a Florida high school Wednesday sent students rushing out into the streets as SWAT team members swarmed in and locked down the building. School officials said they had received reports of multiple fatalities.

People emerge from a building with their hands raised after reports of a shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14, 2018. (PHOTO: AP)

Twitter user @Melody_Ball relayed a video from her younger brother showing regional S.W.A.T. team securing their classroom.

Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said the shooting resulted in “numerous fatalities” but the exact number was unknown.

CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez tweeted this scene outside of Stoneman High School.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office tweeted Wednesday afternoon that “so far we have at least 14 victims.” The tweet added: “Victims have been and continue to be transported to Broward Health Medical Center and Broward Health North hospital.”

Coral Springs Police said on their Twitter account Wednesday that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was locked down and that students and teachers inside should remain barricaded until police reach them.

One student supposedly sent the following tweet as the school was in lock down.

Len Murray’s 17-year-old son, a junior at the school, sent his parents a chilling text around 2:30pm: “Mom and Dad, there have been shots fired on campus at school. There are police sirens outside. I’m in the auditorium and the doors are locked.”

A few minutes later, he texted again: “I’m fine.”

Ambulances converged in front of the school, and TV news broadcasts showed at least one person being wheeled to an ambulance on a gurney. Live footage also showed emergency workers appearing to treat possibly wounded people on the sidewalks. It wasn’t immediately clear how many were wounded. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that the shooter was still at large even as the evacuation was underway.

Television footage showed police in olive fatigues, with weapons drawn, entering the school, then dozens of children frantically running and walking quickly out. A police officer waved the students on, urging them to quickly evacuate. Some students exited the building in single-file rows with hands raised overhead to show they carried no weapons. Others held onto other students as they made their way out past helmeted police in camouflage with weapons drawn.

The Broward Schools department said on its website that it had received reports of “possible multiple injuries” and was dismissing students. The department said students and staff heard what sounded like gunfire and the school immediately went on lockdown.

The high school is a sprawling complex set on a tract in the South Florida community of Parkland, about 45 miles (70 kilometers) north of downtown Miami.

The school had just over 3,100 students in the 2016-2017 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Major streets run along two sides and an expressway passes nearby on the other not far from a residential neighborhood of single family homes.

Following the shooting, the White House canceled its daily press briefing.

President Donald Trump has spoken with Florida Gov. Rick Scott about the shooting. He said in a tweet that the White House is “working closely with law enforcement on the terrible Florida school shooting.”

He earlier tweeted his condolences to the families of the victims.

Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says Trump has offered Florida federal assistance, if needed. The homeland security secretary has also been in touch with state and local officials.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

Kenneth Trump discusses the deadly school shooting in Flordia

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, about the deadly shooting in Florida and how to better protect students and children in these situations.