Latest: Suspect stopped at restaurants after shooting in Florida - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Latest: Suspect stopped at restaurants after shooting in Florida

Posted:

UPDATE THURSDAY: 4:23 PM CT

A Florida sheriff says the suspect in a school shooting that killed 17 people stopped at fast food restaurants after the attack.
   
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference Thursday that Nikolas Cruz tried to mix in with a group of students fleeing the school. The sheriff says he then headed to a Wal-Mart and bought a drink at a Subway restaurant before walking to a McDonald's.

Israel says Cruz was confronted by a police officer and taken into custody about 40 minutes after leaving the McDonald's


UPDATE: THURSDAY 1 PM CT

Suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19, appeared in court for the first time to address his charges.

He is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. The state sought no bond, and the defense had no argument.


WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump says he'll visit Parkland, Florida, the site of Wednesday's shooting that killed 17 people.

Trump said from the White House he's making plans to meet with families and local officials, and to continue coordinating the federal response.

Trump called on Americans to "answer hate with love, answer cruelty with kindness," after a troubled 19-year-old former pupil gunned-down students and teachers at the school.  He tweeted early Thursday that the suspect appeared to be "mentally disturbed," but he has not mentioned guns.


Trump said, "To law enforcement, first responders, and teachers who responded so bravely in the face of danger, we thank you for your courage."

Trump had been planning on spending the weekend in Florida. The White House says the timing of the visit has yet to be finalized.
 


UPDATE THURSDAY AT 10 AM CT

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) - Students and neighbors describe the suspect in the deadly rampage at a Florida high school as a troubled teenager who threatened and harassed peers, talked about killing animals, posed with guns in disturbing photos on social media, and bragged about target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for "disciplinary reasons," Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said, but he insisted he didn't know the specifics. Math teacher Jim Gard told the Miami Herald that before Wednesday's fatal shooting of 17 people, Cruz may have been identified as a potential threat - Gard believes the school had sent out an email warning teachers that Cruz shouldn't be allowed on campus with a backpack.

"There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus," Gard told the paper.

Student Victoria Olvera, 17, said Cruz had been abusive to his ex-girlfriend and that his expulsion was over a fight with her new boyfriend. He'd been attending another school in Broward County since the expulsion, school officials said.

Cruz was an orphan - his mother, Lynda Cruz died of pneumonia Nov. 1 neighbors, friends and family members said, according to the Sun Sentinel. Cruz and her husband, who died of a heart attack years ago, adopted Nikolas and his biological brother, Zachary, after the couple moved from Long Island in New York to Broward County.

The boys were left in the care of a family friend after their mother died, family member Barbara Kumbatovich, of Long Island, said.

Unhappy there, Nikolas Cruz asked to move in with a friend's family in northwest Broward. The family agreed, and Cruz moved in around Thanksgiving. According to lawyer Jim Lewis, who represents but did not identify the family, they knew that Cruz owned the AR-15 but made him keep it locked up in a cabinet and never saw him go to a shooting range with it. He did have the key, however.

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

The family is devastated and shocked, lawyer Lewis said. During the three months Cruz lived there, he was respectful and quiet but also sad over his mother's death, Lewis told The AP.

"No indication that anything severe like this was wrong," Lewis said. "Just a mildly troubled kid who'd lost his mom. ... He totally kept this from everybody."

The family's son was a junior at the school and was there when the shooting happened, Lewis said. The family is cooperating as their home is searched and no one there is suspected of wrongdoing, he added.

Longtime Cruz family neighbors Malcolm and Christine Roxburgh told the Sun Sentinel that the police came to the boy's house many times, as he used to get in trouble and harass people. Malcolm Roxburgh said a neighbor across the street kept pigs, and Nicolas Cruz targeted the family.

"He didn't like the pigs and didn't like the neighbors, so he sent over his dog over there to try to attack them," Roxburgh said.

His wife said she once caught Nikolas peeking in her window.

"I said, 'What are you doing here?' He said he was looking for golf balls. I said, 'This isn't the golf course,'" she said.

And, the couple said, when the boy didn't want to go to school, he would bang his head against a cement wall. They were scared of him. "He could have killed any of us," Christine Roxburgh said.

Cruz was getting treatment at a mental health clinic for a while, but hadn't been there for more than a year, Broward County Mayor Beam Furr said during an interview with CNN.

"It wasn't like there wasn't concern for him," Furr said. "We try to keep our eyes out on those kids who aren't connected ... Most teachers try to steer them toward some kind of connections. ... In this case, we didn't find a way to connect with this kid."

Officials said they're dissecting the suspect's disturbing social media posts, without elaboration. But peers said they recognized Cruz from an Instagram photo posing with a gun in front of his face. The students called Cruz "weird" and a "loner" - even those who'd been friendly with him said they hadn't seen him in more than a year since his expulsion.

Dakota Mutchler, 17, recalled Cruz posting on Instagram about killing animals and said he had talked about doing target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun.

"He started going after one of my friends, threatening her, and I cut him off from there," Mutchler said.

He said students weren't surprised officials had identified Cruz as the shooter: "I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him." Mutchler said.

But Broward County School District Superintendent Robert Runcie said he did not know of any threats posed by Cruz to the school.

"Typically you see in these situations that there potentially could have been signs out there," Runcie said. "I would be speculating at this point if there were, but we didn't have any warnings. There weren't any phone calls or threats that we know of that were made."

On Thursday morning, Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder after being questioned for hours by state and federal authorities. Weighing in at 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds and wearing a hospital gown after being treated for labored breathing, he was ordered held without bond and booked into jail.


UPDATE AT 8:15 P.M. CT

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.


UPDATE AT 4:15 PM CT

Federal official identifies Florida high school shooting suspect as Nicolas Cruz, sheriff says suspect is former student.

He said the teen was arrested without incident after he was located off the school grounds in a nearby community. He didn't give details of when the suspect had attended the school. But the sheriffs says the suspect wasn't currently enrolled.

"I don't know why he left," Israel said, briefing reporters Wednesday afternoon. He also says the shooter was outside and inside the school at points during the attack. He didn't elaborate.

The sheriff says several SWAT teams have gone in during the afternoon and are clearing every building at the Parkland high school complex to ensure no other threat remains.

He also says the FBI has stepped in and will begin processing what he describes as "horrific scene."


UPDATE AT 3:35 PM CT

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.


UPDATE AT 3:15 PM CT

The sheriff in Broward County now reports the suspect in today's school shooting is in custody.  Television coverage showed a young man in handcuffs being placed into the back of a squad car.  The superintendent of schools confirms there are "numerous fatalities."


PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) -Officials are warning a gunman remains at large amid an ongoing shooting situation at a Southern Florida high school, the Broward Sheriff's Office said.

There are reports of victims from the incident at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the sheriff's office said.

Students with bookbags were seen sprinting out of the building as authorities with guns drawn swarmed the school. Other students were seen lined up one by one, leaving the area in an orderly fashion. Some students were hysterical, reported ABC affiliate WPLG.

Officials urged the public to avoid the area.

The FBI and ATF are responding.

White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement, "The president has been made aware of the school shooting in Florida. We are monitoring the situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected."

Additional information was not immediately available.


Authorities are responding to reports of a shooting at a high school in Southern Florida this afternoon, the Broward Sheriff's Office said.

They've told news outlets the shooting occurred Wednesday afternoon at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

There are reports of victims from the incident at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the sheriff's office said.

“The shooter is still at large,” according to a source with the Broward Sheriff's Office.

Students with book bags were seen sprinting out of the building as authorities with guns drawn swarmed the school.

We will update this story as additional information becomes available.

Powered by Frankly