Fla. High School Shooting Suspect Charged With Murder

Officials are expected to give more information, including the possible release

PARKLAND, F.L. (NBC NEWS) - Less than 24 hours after Nikolas Cruz allegedly entered South Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and opened fire in what would become one of the deadliest mass school shootings in U.S. history, the 19-year-old was booked into jail and charged with murder.

NBC 6 cameras captured Cruz being taken into the Broward County Jail just before 6 a.m., where he was later charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Cruz was captured by officers less than an hour after he allegedly brought a weapon — believed to be an AR-15 — into the Parkland school he once attended and started shooting. Officials say Cruz was expelled from the school last year for unknown disciplinary reasons.

He was wearing what appeared to be a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps shirt from the school with an eagle logo on the arm. Students told NBC 6 that Cruz was a part of the JROTC when he attended the school.

Officials say he was equipped with a gas mask and smoke grenades, set off a fire alarm to draw students out of classrooms shortly before the day ended at one of the state's largest schools, officials said. Twelve of the victims were found dead inside the school.

In addition to the 17 fatalities, more patients remain at hospitals across Broward County – including five in critical condition according to officials at Broward Health North Hospital.

Officials are expected to give more information, including the possible release of those victims' names, at a 10:30 a.m. ET press conference.

Multiple students confirmed that there was a fire drill early in the morning, and when the fire alarm rang again later in the afternoon, "no one expected anything that was gonna happen," one student told NBC 6.

School board officials said staff and students heard what sounded like gunfire shortly before dismissal and the school went on an immediate lockdown.

Footage posted on social media showed students cowering under desks in one classroom as gunshots rang out.

NBC 6 spoke to the older brother of one student, who said his sister, a sophomore, was safe but “trembling in shock” at the scene unfolding at her high school.

“It’s just complete chaos out there,” he said a short distance from the school. “She was numb.”

The school will remain closed for the rest of the week, and all school activities have been canceled, Broward City Public Schools tweeted.

Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie said Wednesday night that grief counselors will be available at locations across the area for students, staff and families.

"As we rise this morning let us pray for the victims and families of this horrific tragedy that has fallen on our community," Runcie tweeted Thursday morning. "Let us find the courage to transcend fear, greed, hatred & divisions and collaborate to achieve a new level of consciousness to find real solutions that include investments in mental health services for our youth and common sense gun control for this nation."

A prayer vigil will be held on Thursday at 2:35 p.m. at Pine Trails Park. All are invited to attend. Another vigil is being held at noon on Thursday at the Parkridge Church.

NBC 6 also spoke with a father who was able to communicate with his child inside the school. "I'm relieved that [the suspect] has been captured, at least that part of its over. The stress from this is too much." He said his child is safe.

"This is just the worst kind of tragedy," said U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, who represents the district that includes parts of Parkland. "It's a great community and it's just so awful to see the images coming out of there."

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