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The latest: Students describe shooting suspect as troubled

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In this frame grab from video provided by WPLG-TV, students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., evacuate the school following a shooting, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (WPLG-TV via AP)

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 | 9:07 p.m.

Florida School Shooting

The flag above the White House is lowered to half-staff for the shooting victims of a mass shooting in a South Florida High School, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Launch slideshow »

PARKLAND, Fla. — The latest on a shooting at a Florida high school (all times local):

9:55 p.m.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says the 19-year-old suspect in the deadly school shooting, Nikolas Cruz, had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for "disciplinary reasons."

Israel says he doesn't know the specifics of what happened.

But Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old junior, says Cruz was expelled last school year after a fight with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend.

School officials haven't confirmed such accounts, but say Cruz was attending another school in Florida's Broward County after his expulsion.

One 17-year-old junior, Dakota Mutchler, says he used to be friends with Cruz but hadn't seen him in more than a year after his expulsion. He says of Cruz: "He started progressively getting a little more weird."

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This story has been corrected show that Dakota's last name is Mutchler, not Mentcher.

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9:30 p.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has joined law enforcement agents near the site of the deadly school shooting and offered his condolences to the victims' families and survivors. He says the attack that claimed at least 17 lives "is just absolutely pure evil."

Scott told reporters Wednesday evening he can't imagine what the families of the victims are going through. He also said he would be visiting hospitalized survivors.

Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County also said at the news conference that families of the dead are being notified. He says 12 of the dead have been identified. He says not all victims were carrying identification and thus couldn't be quickly identified.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says the state will cover funeral expenses for the victims and counseling for survivors.

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9:15 p.m.

A law enforcement official says the former student suspected of killing at least 17 people at a South Florida high school posted highly disturbing material on social media before the shooting rampage.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Wednesday the 19-year-old suspect, Nikolas Cruz, had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for unspecified disciplinary reasons.

Israel says investigators are dissecting the suspect's social media posts and found material that is "very, very disturbing." He didn't elaborate.

An ex-schoolmate recalled Cruz posting on Instagram about killing animals and said he talked of doing target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun.

A school superintendent, Robert Runcie, told reporters he didn't know of any concerns raised about Cruz.

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8:35 p.m.

A student who escaped the deadly shooting at a Florida high school says he knew the suspect when he attended the school, describing him as a "weird kid" and something of a "loner."

Authorities said 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz is in custody after the attack Wednesday that claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Officials say Cruz was a former student, having been expelled from the school.

Student Daniel Huerfano told The Associated Press he remembers seeing Cruz walking around the school with his lunch bag, adding, "He was that weird kid that you see ... like a loner."

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8:15 p.m.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida says he is "devastated and saddened" by the deadly shooting attack on a high school in his state.

The Republican senator says he remains ready to assist state and local officials and "anyone impacted by this horrible tragedy." He also said in his statement Wednesday that he hopes authorities can find out in coming hours and days more about why and how the killer "carried out this carnage."

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida has also issued condolences. She called the attack in Parkland, Florida, "another senseless school shooting ... this time in our community."

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7:50 p.m.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords says the deadly school shooting in Florida should "strike fear into all Americans."

The Democrat from Arizona was shot in the head and survived a shooting attack in 2011.

She said in a statement Wednesday that her heart goes out to the victims and survivors of the school shooting that claimed 17 lives in Parkland, Florida. She called it the latest attack in an epidemic of gun violence that continues "days after deadly day."

She also says in a statement that the latest in a series of deadly U.S. shootings should stir fresh resolve in Congress to "find the courage to pass the laws we need to protect our children."

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7:30 p.m.

Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida says the shooter in the attack on a high school in his state wore a gas mask and had smoke grenades.

The Florida Democrat said in an interview with CNN that he was briefed on the attack by the FBI.

Nelson says the attacker "set off the fire alarm so the kids would come pouring out of the classrooms into the hall. And there the carnage began."

Nelson says he did not know if the gunman had used the smoke grenades but he assumed that's why he had a gas mask on.

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7:15 p.m.

Doctors say 16 people wounded in a deadly shooting at a Florida high school are being treated at area hospitals.

Dr. Evan Boyar at Broward Health North told reporters Wednesday that eight victims and the suspect had been brought to his hospital. Boyar says two victims died, three were in critical condition and three were in stable condition. He says three patients were still in the operating room Wednesday evening. The suspect was treated and released to police.

Boyar says all the victims were shot but declined to comment on their ages or the extent of their wounds.

Eight other victims were taken to other hospitals, but he did not have information on their conditions.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says a 19-year-old former student has been arrested in the shooting that killed 17 people.

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6:35 p.m.

Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida says lawmakers have offered their condolences after the latest school shooting, this one in his district.

Deutch says he found his colleagues' outreach — in his words — both "heartwarming and obscene." Authorities say 17 people died in Wednesday's attack in Parkland, Florida, and the suspect, a 19-year-old former student, is in custody.

The congressman says he uses the word "obscene" because school shootings have become so commonplace that lawmakers were offering him guidance on what to expect in coming days as constituents grapple with the tragedy.

Deutch says it's time to find ways to save lives. He says he wants President Donald Trump to call those concerned to the White House to "do something" about gun violence.

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6:30 p.m.

A Florida sheriff says that 12 of the 17 confirmed deaths in Wednesday's shooting attack on a high school were found in the school.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says the attack began outside the school Wednesday afternoon.

He told reporters that authorities subsequently found 12 people dead in the building and two more dead just outside the school and one more in a nearby street. Israel says two other people died later under medical treatment.

Israel says the suspect, a 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is in custody. He says the male suspect was checked out at a hospital after his arrest and is now being held at a secure location in a public building.

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6:05 p.m.

A sheriff says 17 people have died in the shooting attack on a South Florida high school.

Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County says the 19-year-old suspect is in custody and that investigators are beginning to "dissect" what happened in the attack Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

He says the suspect, a former student, was previously expelled for disciplinary reasons.

Israel says the man had at least one rifle and multiple magazines.

He says most of the fatalities were inside the building though some were found fatally shot outside.

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5:40 p.m.

A man says he watched as officers arrested the suspect in the shooting at a Florida high school, where authorities are reporting numerous deaths.

Michael Nembhard told The Associated Press he was in his garage watching TV news coverage of the shooting when he heard a police officer repeatedly yelling, "get on the ground!"

Nembhard says he looked up to see a teenage boy on the ground about 150 yards (meters) away with an officer pointing a gun at him. The officer stood over the boy until other officers arrived, handcuffed him and led him away.

A federal official who spoke on condition of anonymity identified the suspect as Nicolas Cruz. The official says he wasn't authorized to discuss it publicly.

Authorities say the suspect is a former student about 18 years old.

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5:20 p.m.

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

Authorities in Florida say the shooter opened fire at the school Wednesday afternoon, killing "numerous" people. The shooting sent frightened students running out into the streets and SWAT team members swarming the building.

Authorities later announced that they had taken a former student, about 18 years old, into custody after locating him off the school grounds.

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5 p.m.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says the Florida high school shooting suspect is a former student about 18 years old.

He says the suspect was arrested without incident off school grounds in a nearby community. He didn't elaborate on when the suspect had attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parikland.

A shooter opened fire at the school Wednesday afternoon, killing "numerous" people, sending students running out into the streets and SWAT team members swarming in before authorities took the shooter into custody.

Israel says the FBI has arrived and will begin processing what he describes as "horrific scene."

He called it a "catastrophic day."

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4:40 p.m.

Parents described a chaotic and frightening situation as they rushed to find their children in the frantic minutes after reports of a shooting at a South Florida high school began to spread.

Caesar Figueroa says he was one of the first parents to arrive at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. He says he saw police officers bringing out big weapons as they approached the school.

Figueroa's office is only five minutes from the school where he sends his 16-year-old daughter.

"My wife called me that there was an active shooter and the school was on lockdown. I got on the road and saw helicopters, police with machine guns. It was crazy and my daughter wasn't answering her phone."

According to Figueroa, she texted him that she was hidden inside a closet at school with friends: "She was in a classroom and she heard gunshots by the window. She and her friends ran into the closet."

Another parent, Beth Feingold, says her daughter sent a text at 2:32 p.m. saying "We're on code red. I'm fine." But she then sent another text soon afterward saying, "Mom, I'm so scared." The girl was later able to escape the school unharmed.

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4:25 p.m.

A school official says there are numerous fatalities from the high school shooting in South Florida.

Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie says "There are numerous fatalities. It is a horrific situation." He added, "It is a horrible day for us."

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."

The sheriff's statement didn't elaborate on the victims or their injuries.

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4:15 p.m.

The White House has canceled its daily press briefing after a Florida high school shooting that sent students rushing into the streets.

President Donald Trump has spoken with Florida Gov. Rick Scott about the shooting. He says 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.

Sanders says, "We continue to keep the victims, and their friends and family, in our thoughts and prayers."

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4:10 p.m.

Authorities say the shooter at a South Florida high school is now in custody.

The Broward County Sheriff's Office gave no details in briefly tweeting that development. It did not identify the shooting suspect nor say how the person was taken into custody.

Television footage showed police putting a person in the back of a police car outside the high school.

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4 p.m.

Parent John Obin says his son, a freshman at the South Florida high school where the shooting erupted, says his child was in class when he heard several shots. The father says his son advised that teachers quickly rushed students out of the school. He adds the boy told his father that he walked by two people on the ground motionless — and apparently dead — as students rushed outside.

"This is a really good school, and now it's like a war zone," Obin said

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.

Outside, televised news footage showed two people on stretchers and another person being treated on the ground at an intersection near the scene of the school. Paramedics were treating those who appeared to be students with injuries, but it wasn't clear how they were hurt. A few students were loaded into ambulances.

One unidentified student told a reporter at the scene that at first students thought it was a fire drill because they had heard fire alarms going off.

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3:55 p.m.

The shooting at a South Florida high school sent students rushing into the streets as SWAT team members swarmed in and locked down the building. Police were warning that the shooter was still at large even as ambulances converged on the scene and emergency workers appeared to be treating those possibly wounded.

Aerial television news footage showed police in olive fatigues, with weapons drawn, entering the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Then dozens of students could be seen frantically running and others quickly walking out. A police officer waved the students on, urging them to quickly evacuate the school.

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.

Emergency medical personnel pulled stretchers from the backs of ambulances as police cars surrounded the parking lot. At least one person was seen being wheeled to the ambulance on a gurney. It wasn't immediately clear how many people were wounded.

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3:45 p.m.

Len Murray's 17-year-old son, a junior at the South Florida high school where shooting was reported, sent his parents a chilling text: "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."

Those words came at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. A few minutes later, he texted again: "I'm fine."

Murray raced to the school only to be stopped by authorities under a highway overpass within view of the school buildings in Parkland.

No information was immediately given to parents, Len Murray says. And he says he remained worried for all those inside.

"I'm scared for the other parents here. You can see the concern in everybody's faces. Everybody is asking, 'Have you hard from your child yet?'"

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3:15 p.m.

Authorities say a shooter at a Florida high school is still at large.

The Broward Sheriff's Office shared the information on its Twitter account after Wednesday afternoon's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

It wasn't immediately clear how many people were wounded.

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2:30 p.m.

Authorities say they're responding to a shooting at a Florida high school.

The Broward Sheriff's Office has told news outlets the shooting occurred Wednesday afternoon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

It wasn't immediately clear how many people were wounded.