A starter's gun is seen smoking after the start of a men's 200m heat at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne March 22, 2006.
A starter's gun is seen smoking after the start of a men's 200m heat at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne March 22, 2006. Reuters/David Gray

Seventeen people were killed and up to 50 were injured after a 19-year-old former student went on a shooting rampage at a Florida high school. Police launched a manhunt on Wednesday for the gunman, who was said to have been previously expelled due to disciplinary reasons.

The shooter was identified as Nikolas Cruz. He wore a gas mask, a burgundy shirt and black pants when he opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Cruz, with a .223 calibre, AR-15 firearm and multiple magazines, reportedly pulled the high school’s fire alarm. He gunned down students as they were running away from the building.

Police learned that the assailant was a former member of the US Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program. According to Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County, he had been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons.

Twelve of the victims were killed in the school, two passed away outside and one victim died on a nearby road. Other victims were rushed to the hospital where two more died. A Broward Health North Hospital doctor said three victims were in stable condition; three were critical.

Nikolas Cruz taken into custody

Several officers escorted Cruz as he arrived at the Broward County Sheriff’s office from a police car. This time, he wore a hospital gown. Police are now looking into the shooting suspect’s social media accounts and the websites he visited.

The suspect was a member of “Resistance” groups as well “Syrian Resistance groups and fighter groups out of Iraq” on Facebook, Fox News reports. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reportedly traced his firearm.

Student Matthew Walker told WFOR-TV that “a lot of people were saying it was going to be him.”

“He was going class to class just shooting at random kids - everything he posts (on social media) is about weapons, it’s sick,” he said.

One student told CBS News that they initially thought the incident was a fire drill as they had one earlier in the day. “We already had one earlier this morning and then we heard gunshots, some students thought it was not that serious,” the student said.

Teachers and students in the building were reportedly advised to “remain barricaded inside until police reach you.” One witness told the ABC News that the shots were too many to count. The mass shooting was one of the deadliest in US history.

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