Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old who was taken into custody after Wednesday’s fatal shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel announced Wednesday that the suspect is a former student of the school who got expelled for disciplinary reasons.
He said 12 people were killed within the school building, two people were killed just outside the building, one person was killed on a nearby street corner and two people died in the hospital.
School Superintendent Robert Runcie said that the suspect “discarded his fire arm and gear that he had on and exited the building along with students” who were fleeing.
Runcie claimed the suspect arrived at the school by Uber, “around the time of dismissal,” and entered the building. Soon after, the suspect pulled the fire alarm, and as students exited their classrooms, he stared firing, Runci said.
Fourteen victims remained at area hospitals as of Wednesday evening, according to The News Tribune. Dr. Evan Boyar told reporters Wednesday that eight victims and the suspect had been brought to Broward Health North, where two victims died, three were in critical condition and three were in stable condition. The suspect was later released into police custody.
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Israel said officials have begun to “dissect” social media sites related to the suspect, and that “some of the things that have come to mind are very disturbing.”
The suspect was known for sharing pictures of weapons on social media, CNN reports, and posted threatening comments on YouTube videos such as “I whana shoot people with my AR-15” (sic), “I wanna die Fighting killing s- ton of people” and “I am going to kill law enforcement one day they go after the good people.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a news conference Wednesday night that the attack “is just absolutely pure evil.”
The suspects mother, Lynda Cruz, died on Nov. 1 from the flu and pneumonia. His father had died over a decade ago from a heart attack, so Lynda’s cousin Kathie Blaine said the teen was “on his own.”
“He is 19. He was an adult on his own,” she said, according to CNN. “It’s really at this point, I don’t understand it anymore than anyone else does. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe any of these school shootings. I never met him.”
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CNN reports the suspect had been living with a friend who attended the high school and his family since his mother’s death.
Student Jordyn Laudanno, 17, tells PEOPLE all she knew about the gunman was that he had been expelled last year.
“He was a very weird kid he wasn’t allowed to bring a backpack to school when he was here because he brought knives,” she says. “And he had this obsession with guns. People used to joke that, ‘if someone shot up the school, it would be him.’ I have no idea why no one spoke out about it, this could have been prevented.”
As to his state of mind, Laudanno says friends of hers who attended the funeral for the suspect’s mom said “he didn’t seem like he completely lost it or anything.” She adds, “nothing ever, ever would be a good enough reason for what he did. There’s no words for what he deserves.”
Authorities allege the suspect “concealed himself in the crowd and was among those running out of the school.”
Investigators had to comb through security footage to identify the suspect, which led to his arrest in a nearby neighborhood of Coral Springs, Florida, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
The suspect has not yet entered a plea and is being held without bond.