Rich and Rachel Castleberry visit one of seventeen crosses after a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Wednesday shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Nikolas Cruz, a former student, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday. With them are their children Mila, 9, left, Jack, 5, center, and Lucy, 7. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Rich and Rachel Castleberry visit one of seventeen crosses after a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Wednesday shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Nikolas Cruz, a former student, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday. With them are their children Mila, 9, left, Jack, 5, center, and Lucy, 7. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

‘Run’: A 6-minute fatal rampage for shocked Florida school

Nikolas Cruz, a former student, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday

Nikolas Cruz jumped out of an Uber car and walked toward building 12 of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, carrying a black duffel bag and a black backpack. A man inside the school spotted Cruz and knew he was a former student, a troubled kid. He radioed a co-worker, and within a minute heard gunshots.

The 19-year-old was wearing a maroon shirt, black pants and a black hat. The man, whose name was blacked out from a sheriff’s affidavit, told detectives Cruz was moving “purposefully.”

Cruz slipped into the building, entered a stairwell and extracted a rifle from his bag, authorities said. He shot into four rooms on the first floor — going back to spray bullets into two of the rooms a second time — then went upstairs and shot a single victim on the second floor. He ran to the third floor, where according to a timeline released by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, three minutes passed before he dropped the rifle and backpack, ran back down the stairs and quickly blended in with panicked, fleeing students.

Related: 17 dead, suspect identified in Florida school shooting

Florida State Sen. Bill Galvano, who visited the third floor, said authorities told him it appeared that Cruz tried to fire point-blank out the third-floor windows at students as they were leaving the school, but the windows didn’t shatter. Police told Galvano that it was not that difficult to open the windows.

“Thank God he didn’t,” Galvano said.

From the time Cruz entered the building until the time he left, only six minutes passed. During that brief time, he shot more than two dozen people, including 17 fatally.

After the rampage, he walked to a Wal-Mart and bought a drink at a Subway restaurant, then went to a McDonald’s.

About 40 minutes later, a deputy saw him walking down a suburban South Florida street and grabbed him. He didn’t put up a fight.

The details of Wednesday’s carnage at the Parkland, Florida, high school emerged a day later from witnesses and law enforcement reports.

Related: Florida teen charged with 17 murders; Trump plans address

Among the dead: assistant football coach Aaron Feis, slain while shielding students from bullets; Joaquin Oliver, a student known for his unique look and who once dyed his hair bleach-blonde with tiger stripes; Alyssa Alhadeff, an avid soccer player and student; and 35-year-old geography teacher Scott Beigel, who helped students enter a locked classroom, only to be shot himself.

Among at least 1,000 people attending a candlelight vigil near the school Thursday night, some openly sobbed as the victims’ names were read aloud. At one point, people began chanting, “No more guns! No more guns!”

Dressed in the school’s red colour, some held flowers while others wielded signs asking for action to fight school violence, including gun control.

“Kids don’t need guns. No guns under 21,” read one sign.

Ernest Rospierski, a teacher at the school, took several bracing breaths at the vigil as he talked to a reporter about the horror in the halls.

“Bang bang bang – all of a sudden the shooting stopped,” he said. “I looked down. He was reloading. I yelled run. And then I ran behind as many kids as I could.”

Authorities have not described any specific motive, except to say that Cruz had been kicked out of the high school, which has about 3,000 students and serves an affluent suburb where the median home price is nearly $600,000. Students who knew him described a volatile teenager whose strange behaviour had caused others to end friendships.

Cruz was ordered held without bond at a brief court hearing. He wore an orange jumpsuit with his hands cuffed at his waist. His public defender did not contest the order and had her arm around Cruz during the short appearance. Afterward, she called him a “broken human being.”

Cruz was under a suicide watch, said Executive Chief Public Defender Gordon Weekes.

Wednesday’s shooting was the 17th incident of gunfire at a U.S. school this year. Of these, one involved a suicide, two involved active shooters who killed students, two involved people killed in arguments and three involved people who were shot but survived. Nine involved no injuries at all.

Related: Trump refuses to address gun control following deadly Florida shooting

Officials were investigating whether authorities missed other warning signs about Cruz’s potentially violent nature.

He had been expelled from the school for “disciplinary reasons,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who said he did not know the specifics.

One student said Cruz had been abusive to his ex-girlfriend and that his expulsion was over a fight with her new boyfriend.

Two federal law enforcement officials said the Smith & Wesson M&P15 .223 was purchased legally at Sunrise Tactical Gear in Florida.

Cruz passed a background check and legally purchased the assault weapon in February 2017, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press. The official was not authorized to discuss the information publicly, and spoke on condition of anonymity.

__

Lush reported from St. Petersburg, Florida. Associated Press writers John Mone and Sadie Gurman contributed to this report.

Kelli Kennedy, Curt Anderson And Tamara Lush, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A rendering of the proposed development at the intersection of Leon Avenue and Water Street. (Contributed)
Massive Leon Ave development coming back to Kelowna council

The towers would stand at 24, 28 and 42 storeys, the largest of which would be the tallest building in the city

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

The Stuart Park ice rink in January 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna’s Stuart Park outdoor ice rink opening delayed

Recent provincial health orders have again shifted the city’s strategy regarding the popular rink

The Rutland IGA is located in Willow Park Shopping Centre at 590 BC-33. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Customer asked to mask up, throws hot coffee at Rutland IGA employee

The woman grabbed cat food on her way out when she refused to wear a mask

Police service dog Fitz helped track and rescue a lost hiker and his dog in Kelowna. (Kelowna RCMP)
Kelowna police dog Fitz dies of cancer

Fitz recently helped locate a lost hiker in the Central Okanagan

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

City of Armstrong Public Works Yard. (Google Maps)
Armstrong city staffer threatened in snow removal complaint

Community services manager says ‘veiled threat’ is believed to have been flippant, but is being taken seriously

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Okanagan Quality Life Society which usually gives tours of Okanagan Lake to seniors and shut-ins on its boat Heaven Can Wait has created a virtual tour video in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which shut down the tours in 2020. (Morning Star - file photo)
Okanagan Lake virtual boat tours launched

Okanagan Quality Life Society normally gives tours on Okanagan Lake on its boat Heaven Can Wait

Most Read