The Slatest

Florida School Shooting Suspect Charged With 17 Counts of Murder

Shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was transferred from a hospital to Broward County Jail in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on Thursday.
Shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz was transferred from a hospital to Broward County Jail in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on Thursday.

In the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, details continue to emerge about the tragedy. Here’s what we know so far:

• At least 17 people were killed, and 15 others sent to the hospital, according to law enforcement officials. This is the second-deadliest school shooting in American history, with more fatalities than the 1999 Columbine massacre in which the two assailants murdered 13 people and then took their own lives. (The 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which the shooter killed 26 children and staff, remains the deadliest.)

• The suspected shooter is a 19-year-old former student named Nikolas Cruz. Police arrested him near the campus without incident on Wednesday and sent him to a hospital due to breathing issues.

• Cruz allegedly had an extensive plan for the assault. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson informed CNN, “The shooter wore a gas mask and he had smoke grenades,” Nelson said. “He went and he set off the fire alarm so that the kids would come pouring out of the classroom[s] into the hall. And there the carnage began.”

• The suspect used an AR-15 rifle, the same gun used for the mass shootings in Newtown in 2012, Aurora in 2012, and San Bernardino in 2015. Investigators report that the gun was purchased legally.

• Students posted graphic images and video footage from the scene of the shooting on social media.

• Former classmates of the alleged shooter described him as morbid and troubled. Authorities said Cruz was expelled for disciplinary reasons. A now-deleted Instagram account purportedly belonging to Cruz featured images of knives, guns, and anti-Islamic content.

• Nikolas Cruz and his half-brother, who were adopted, had been living with their mother, Lynda Cruz, until her death in November, the Washington Post reports. Their adoptive father, Roger Cruz, had also died years ago. Lynda reportedly struggled with Nikolas’s behavioral problems and called the police to their home several times.

• The suspect had been living with his friend’s family after his mother passed away. The family’s lawyer, Jim Lewis, told CNN that Cruz usually attended adult education courses during the week to earn a GED, but that he refused to go on Wednesday, saying something like, “It’s Valentine’s Day. I don’t go to school on Valentine’s Day.”

• The lawyer further indicated that the family thought Cruz’s mood was improving and saw no signs he would be capable of a mass shooting. They let him keep his gun in their lockbox.

On Thursday, Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after state and federal authorities interrogated him for hours. Authorities transferred him from a hospital to the Broward County Jail in the morning, where he is being held without bond.

This post will be updated throughout the day. 

Aaron Mak writes about technology for Slate.