Just last year, Parkland, Florida was cited by a home security trade association as the safest city in the state. Now, it may forever be remembered as the city where 17 people were massacred in a high school shooting.
CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez reports.
Two days after the deadly shootings in America, more details are emerging about the confessed gunman. The FBI admitted on Friday that the agency failed to follow-up on a specific report just last month that the gunman could be planning a school attack. Authorities say there were warning signs and red flags but ultimately ignored by neighbors, the community and law enforcement.
The alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz, made his first court appearance Thursday. Shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, he responded to the judge with “Yes, ma’am” when asked if he understood the circumstances.
One of his public defenders described him as a “broken child.” Evidence points to much more. Before the tragic events transpired Wednesday afternoon, police responded 39 times to Nikolas Cruz’s home between 2011 and 2016, according to one local television report. The station said the issues ranged from domestic disturbance to child/elderly abuse. At the time, Cruz lived with his brother and adopted mother, who died last November.
The suspect who is behind bars, confessed to shooting students in the hallway, his arrest affidavit said. A detailed timeline of the gunman’s actions was published by authorities. (Paste timeline to story, link below). Authorities say he arrived in an Uber, with a semi automatic rifle and many rounds of ammunitions packed in a duffle bag and backpack. It took him only two minutes to start shooting. Cruz allegedly fired bullets for eight minutes.
Authorities said that after the rampage Cruz allegedly tried to blend in with students evacuating the school. He then walked to a Walmart and purchased a drink from a fast food restaurant inside the store. Then he headed to a McDonald’s and spent close to 40 minutes there before leaving. The suspect was caught by local police walking alongside a road. He was arrested roughly 80 minutes after the start of Wednesday’s shooting.
Thursday evening, thousands of residents of South Florida held a vigil for the victims. Family members and local leaders remembered their loved ones. Students who talked to CGTN were angry and upset. Some say they feel betrayed by their government. A fifteen-year-old freshman said, “I don’t know how many kids need to die before they realize that there’s a problem, and before the government realizes that there’s a problem here. Before people realize there’s a problem.”
Florida politicians are talking about changing gun regulations and not allowing mentally unstable people to purchase firearms. Former U.S. President Barack Obama had issued an executive order ordering exactly that, but it was revoked a year ago by President Donald Trump.
The U.S. leader is expected to visit with victims and first responders. Meanwhile, the funerals are underway in a city where residents no longer feel as safe as they once did.
Tom Czyz on what lessons we can learn from the Parkland shooting
To find out the lessons from Parkland and what can be done to avoid mass school shootings, CGTN’s Asieh Namdar spoke with Tom Czyz, a law enforcement expert and founder of Armoured One.