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Cops: Florida Massacre Happened in 6 Minutes

They say Nikolas Cruz took Uber to school, went to McDonald's after shooting
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2018 5:03 AM CST

(Newser) – Police say Nikolas Cruz has confessed to killing 17 people in America's deadliest-ever high school shooting—but they haven't disclosed a motive for Wednesday's rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. According to police and court records released Thursday, the 19-year-old was only in the building for around six minutes, starting when he was dropped off by an Uber at 2:19pm, USA Today reports. Two minutes later, he activated a fire alarm and began shooting a semi-automatic rifle in a hallway before firing into classrooms, police say. At 2:25pm, he dropped the rifle and blended in with fleeing students. Police say he went to a Walmart, had a drink at a Subway outlet, then went to a McDonald's. He was arrested around an hour later when a deputy saw him walking down a street. In other developments:

  • Suicide watch. After a brief court appearance Thursday in which Cruz was ordered held without bond, lawyers said he'd been placed on suicide watch, the Washington Post reports. Public defender Gordon Weekes described him as an "emotionally broken young man" who "has suffered significant mental illness, and significant mental trauma."

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  • The victims. The BBC profiles the 14 students and three staffers killed in the mass shooting. They range in age from 14 to 49. At least 12 others were wounded, seven of them critically, authorities say.
  • Cruz failed to shoot out windows. State Sen. Bill Galvano says that when he visited the school Thursday, officers showed him where Cruz had tried and failed to shoot out third-floor windows, apparently to fire at fleeing students, the AP reports. He says police told him Cruz could have easily just opened the windows, and "Thank God he didn't."
  • Gun shop owners "distraught." Authorities say Cruz legally purchased a year ago the AR-15 rifle used in the shooting at the Sunrise Tactical Supply gun shop in Coral Springs. A lawyer for the owners says they are "distraught" and have closed the store indefinitely. "The tremendous sense of responsibility in this situation and just horribleness that they feel that one of their weapons fell into the hands of this maniac," tells the Miami Herald.

  • Student spared. A ninth-grader says he encountered Cruz before the rampage began and the shooter spared him. Chris McKenna, 15, tells the Sun Sentinel that he saw Cruz loading a gun in a hallway. He says Cruz told him: "You'd better get out of here. Things are gonna start getting messy." McKenna says he fled and told football coach Aaron Feis what he had seen. Witnesses say Feis was fatally shot trying to shield students.
  • Troubled background. A former neighbor in the Pine Tree Estates subdivision tells the New York Times that Cruz had emotional problems and that he believes he was diagnosed with autism. Paul Gold says that as a child, Cruz was bullied and ostracized by other children, but had a strong bond with adoptive mother Lynda Cruz, who died in November. "His mother was his entire life and when he lost her, I believe that was it for the boy's peace of mind," Gold says. Other neighbors have described Cruz as a troublemaker.
  • School called for threat assessment. Local10 reports that the high school called for a threat assessment on Cruz in January last year to determine if he was a danger to the school or its students. Records show that the board was asked to conduct the assessment on Jan. 19, the day Cruz assaulted another student. The New York Daily News reports that Cruz was expelled on Feb. 8—and bought his gun three days later.

  • At a vigil, calls for gun control. Thousands of people gathered for an emotional vigil in Parkland Thursday night, where the Broward County Public Schools superintendent was among the speakers calling for "common-sense gun laws," the Miami Herald reports. Father Fred Guttenberg said the death of his 14-year-old daughter Jaime "makes no sense." "I sent her to school yesterday. She was supposed to be safe," he said. "My job is to protect my children. What is unfathomable is Jaime took a bullet and is dead."
  • "Everything's on the table." CNN reports that Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday night that "everything's on the table," including tightening gun laws, when it comes to his goal of trying to make sure something like this never happens again in his state.
  • Missed warning signs. The debate about gun control after the shooting is likely to focus on missed warning signs, the Guardian reports. Gun control advocates are questioning how Cruz was able to legally buy a gun despite being known as a troubled, weapons-obsessed youth who was expelled from school for violence and made disturbing posts on social media. The FBI was warned about comments made by Cruz last year.
(Read more Parkland school shooting stories.)

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