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Thursday
Feb152018

What the school, police did right in Florida school shooting

Mark Wilson/Getty Images (PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hid in their classrooms on Wednesday as a former student fired shots through the glass windows.

It was terrifying for all those involved, but the students put into practice what they had been trained to do. And the steps they took likely saved lives.

Another potentially life-saving measure came in the form of the classroom doors that locked, which teachers secured on Wednesday and kept the shooter out, and the school regularly held lockdown drills.

School security consultant Ken Trump told ABC News that the students reacted properly even though some may have thought the warnings were just a drill.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said today that the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, pulled the fire alarm and waited for students to come into the hallway.

This isn't the first time that a school shooter has used that move.

David Chipman, a senior policy adviser at gun violence prevention advocacy group Giffords and a former ATF officer, pointed to the Jonesboro school shooting in 1998 where the two shooters pulled the fire alarm and opened fire when people fled the school. Five people were killed in that Arkansas shooting.

"If you have a teacher that says 'Fire alarm, everyone get out,' you're inadvertently showing a lack of discretion and you're walking people into a fire zone where they'll be killed," Chipman said. "That kind of judgment you don't have in a critical incident unless you train."

"Really good training teaches you to have confidence to exercise judgment and discretion," he added.

Both teachers and students at the Florida school had been trained in different types of scenarios. A fire drill had been conducted at the school on Wednesday, hours before the shooting, and some students reported hearing a plan for a "code red" situation, which is used to refer to school shootings.

Chipman said that such examples of training help show "how can you take a horrible situation and have it not be absolutely catastrophic, which is hard to say."

"To me, I think the fact that only 17 people were killed in a school of 3,000 shows that there was a lot of bravery that day. Police responded quickly [and] teachers did everything they knew how to do," he said.

Effective law enforcement moves

Trump, who is not related to the president, pointed to the quick identification of the shooter as one key move.

"They had the surveillance cameras and the wisdom to immediately go to those to immediately identify the perpetrator and then subsequently capture that person even though he had gotten out," he noted.

Another key moment was having students leave their bags in a designated area as they fled the scene.

Steve Gomez, a former FBI special agent in charge and current ABC News consultant, said that such a move was likely done to check that no pipe bombs or explosive devices were inside the bags.

Gomez called that an example of "really good, fast police work."

"Law enforcement response appears to have been outstanding," Gomez said. "They responded right away, they immediately were extracting the students and the faculty out of the area where the shots were reportedly fired."

The frequent public status updates provided by multiple branches of law enforcement were cited by Trump as being helpful in the emergency situation.

"They're doing an excellent job in their crisis communications," he said, adding that the news conferences and Twitter updates "at least helps manage the parental and community anxiety. It's the lack of communication or inconsistent communication that creates increased anxiety."

Remaining questions

One issue that could be a double-edged sword was the suspect's expulsion from the school.

Gomez said that school administrators "expelled him, you got him away from your kids [at the school]... but now you may have somebody who has a beef against you and may want to come back to your school and act out a vengeance against the school or specific teachers and you have to be prepared for that."

Now, as the lengthy list of mass shootings in this country continues to grow, the debate over what happens next - both at individual schools and at the national and state level - rages on.

"I don't want people to be left with the impression that this as a nation is the best we can do," Chipman said.

"We can't say that the best we can do is teachers that act as heroes and then have politicians pay for funerals," he added.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb152018

JROTC enlistees shield classmates, teachers from Florida shooter using Kevlar pads

ABCNews.com(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- When two Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) captains heard gunshots after training with cadets, they used classroom materials to barricade and protect students.

Company commander Capt. Zackary Walls, 17, and Capt. Colton Haab, 17, told ABC News that they ended formations early to head back to their classrooms shortly before a fire alarm went off and the shooting began.

"Around 2:30 I hear the bell ring for the fire alarm and we start heading out," Walls said. "I'm leading the line and we're heading out and it just so happens our fire zone was exactly where the shooter was," but, Walls added, he did not see the shooter.

"I heard the first two or three shots, I knew it was gunshots and I look back at all the kids behind me, there's 60 kids looking at me [asking], 'What do I do, where do I go' I just yell, 'get back in the classroom,'" Walls said.

He went on to explain that students were sprinting through the hallways "trampling over each other" and he began ushering them inside a classroom to shield them from the gunfire. "I start trying to just herd kids in there, get them to where they're not pushing and trampling each other and just get them into the room safely. I pulled in teachers, I pulled in kids that weren't in my class," Walls recalled of the chaotic scene.

Haab said his first sergeant told him not to lead his class outside after hearing seven gunshots, so he turned back to safety.

"I shut my door, pulled a student in and I brought him into the other room [where Walls was located] and I started getting people in," Haab said.

He noticed that the large hanging curtains in the room were made of Kevlar material and told Walls they could use it to protect the kids.

"We made a wall in front of all the kids out of the Kevlar pads," Walls explained.

"I brought those curtains out because I knew exactly what they were made of," Haab said of the thick padded material. "As I'm building them I'm thinking I would never need this other than what we're going to do and after yesterday I'm glad we had them."

Luckily, they did not need to test their preparedness and makeshift fortress because the shooter never entered their room.

They also used two tables to barricade the door and sat next to it holding two by four planks of wood "ready to do what we had to do if someone came in the room," Walls said.

The suspected shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and authorities are still digging for clues as to why he allegedly opened fire at the school killing 17 people.

A student, who told ABC News that he participated in Junior ROTC with Cruz, described him as a “psycho.” Cruz was a well-known weapons enthusiast, the student said, who once tried to sell knives to a classmate.



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Thursday
Feb152018

Florida school shooting: 19-year-old accused of killing 17 is a 'broken child,' lawyer says

Susan Stocker - Pool/Getty Images(PARKLAND, Fla. ) -- A day after the Valentine’s Day massacre at a Florida high school left 17 people dead, the suspect's public defender called the accused gunman a "broken child."

Public defender Melisa McNeil appeared with the school shooting suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, at a brief court appearance today.

"My children they go to school in this community and I feel horrible for these families," McNeil said, adding, "and Mr. Cruz feels that pain."

Students, parents and faculty at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland are struggling to fathom why the former student allegedly opened fire there Wednesday as law enforcement officials searched for clues and the school district denied suggestions that it had been warned.

Besides the 17 killed, more than a dozen others were injured, some critically, after the suspect stormed the school.

Cruz -- who took an Uber to the school on Valentine's Day, according to Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie -- slipped away from the campus by blending in with other students who were trying to escape, police said. He was later apprehended.

Cruz was spotted by a school employee outside of the school before the shooting, as Cruz pulled into the school and got out of the car, according to a probable cause affidavit from the Broward County Sheriff's Office. The employee immediately contacted a co-worker over the radio to alert him that Cruz, who was recognized as a troubled former student, was walking "purposefully" toward the building.

Within a minute, the employee heard gunshots and called in a "code red," the affidavit states.

After Cruz was apprehended and read his Miranda rights, he allegedly stated to authorities that he was the gunman who entered the school with an AR-15-style rifle and began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on school grounds, according to the affidavit. He also allegedly stated that he brought additional loaded magazines to campus and kept them hidden in a backpack until he got there and began the attack, the affidavit states.

Cruz allegedly told authorities that as students began to flee, he decided to discard the weapon and vest with additional magazines so he could blend into the crowd, the affidavit states.

As part of the investigation, authorities are focusing some attention on a McDonald’s near the high school. Cruz went to the restaurant either just before or just after the shooting and met or spoke with someone, two sources told ABC News, citing preliminary information. The person’s connection to Cruz, if any, is unknown.

Authorities have not suggested the suspect had any accomplices. The sheriff did say during a briefing that investigators are questioning every person who might have some information that could help them piece together what occurred at the high school and why.

Cruz was a former student who had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman over disciplinary problems. He had been barred from carrying a backpack on campus before the expulsion, according to law enforcement sources.

The FBI said it received a threat last year of a potential shooter based on YouTube comments, including, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter," but couldn't track down the source.

"No other information was included with that comment which would indicate a time, location or the true identity of the person who made the comment," Robert Lasky, special agent in charge of the FBI Miami Division, said at a news conference today.

The FBI conducted database reviews but was unable to "identify the person who made the comment," he added.

The agency has not confirmed a link to Wednesday's shooting, but the post has the same name as the school shooting suspect.

The FBI is conducting a review of how last year’s tip was handled and what lessons it can learn, an FBI official told ABC News.

The school had “received no warning, no hints, no tips” about the suspected shooter, Runcie, the superintendent, told ABC Miami affiliate WPLG-TV.

Suspect Cruz had an AR-15-style rifle that he legally purchased in the past year from a federally licensed dealer, two law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Brody Speno, a neighbor who spent nearly a decade living a few doors down from Cruz, told ABC News that the suspected shooter was "aggressive, crazy weird, psycho."

Speno said he remembers one day when Cruz suddenly "cornered a squirrel and was pegging it with rocks trying to kill it."

Another neighbor, Malcolm Roxburgh, said Cruz would attack pets.

He called Cruz a "strange character" who always stood out from other teenagers in the neighborhood.

Roxburgh's most vivid memory of Cruz is his roaming the streets. Even in South Florida's sweltering heat, Roxburgh said, Cruz occasionally walked around in a camouflage jacket.

Since Wednesday's shooting, "copycat" threats were made at other schools, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said at today’s news conference.

"We will respond to every threat. Every threat we receive, we will not classify it as a copycat or prank call,” Israel said at a news conference. “We will respond in full and investigate it.”

But “any call that is made fictitiously, any fake call, any call that is made to take out resources at a time like this and place them in places where we don't need to be, we will do the full power of the sheriff's office. We'll investigate this and charge anyone accordingly with the maximum charge we possibly could for doing something so horrific, so pathetic.”

One false alarm at a nearby school this morning was unfounded, the sheriff's office said, but while at the school, "a deputy accidentally discharged his gun and injured his leg."

Among the 17 dead in the Valentine's Day shooting was school football coach and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduate Aaron Feis, according to the sheriff.

A former high school classmate called Feis a "hero."

Teacher Scott Biegel died while saving others, according to student Kelsey Friend.

Biegel unlocked a classroom door and allowed students to enter, Friend told "Good Morning America.”

"I had thought he was behind me ... but he wasn't," Friend said, crying.

"When he opened the door, he had to re-lock it so we can stay safe. And he didn't get the chance to," Friend said, noting that her teacher was lying on the floor.

Among the parents left mourning is Fred Guttenberg.

His heart is broken after losing his daughter, Jamie Guttenberg, in the shooting, he wrote on Facebook.

"I am broken as I write this trying to figure out how my family gets through this," he wrote. "Hugs to all and hold your children tight."

President Donald Trump said from the White House today, "Our entire nation with one heavy heart is praying for the victims and their families. To every parent, teacher and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do to ease your pain. We are all joined together as one American family. And your suffering is our burden, also."

"No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning," he said. "Each person who was stolen from us yesterday had a full life ahead of them. A life filled with wondrous beauty and unlimited potential and promise. Each one had dreams to pursue, love to give and talents to share with the world."

In a proclamation, Trump ordered all flags to fly at half-staff "as a mark of solemn respect for the victims of the terrible act."

Cruz was booked into the Broward County Jail for 17 counts of pre-meditated murder. He has been answering investigators' questions, two law enforcement sources told ABC News. He briefly appeared in court this afternoon and was held on no bond.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb152018

Florida shooting survivor praises school response but warns 'this is something that people cannot get used to'

ABC News(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg needed little time to reflect on the shooting rampage he survived on lockdown in a classroom with other terrified students Wednesday.

"What I wish people would know is that this is something that people cannot get used to,” Hogg, 17, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos today on Good Morning America.

“This is something we can't let keep happening. Because if we do and we get used to it, it’s going to happen again. This is a time for our country to take a look in the mirror and realize there is a serious issue here," he added.

Hogg, who could not see the shooter, took a video of himself and other students as they huddled in the classroom.

None of his friends were among the victims but his younger sister lost two friends among the 17 who died, he said.

"I was able to reach out to my other friends and students and thank God they're all all right. However, my sister, who is a freshman here, she had two of her, like, best friends die in this awful incident," Hogg said.

He praised the school’s practice of locking classroom doors in an active-shooter situation.

"We have had meetings and teachers talking about what to do in these type of situations, actually, pretty recently and had initiatives to lock all the doors,” he said, “and I think, honestly, that worked and easily saved a couple hundred if not a thousand lives because all those doors were locked."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb152018

Florida school shooting suspect linked to white supremacist group: ADL

Broward County Sheriff(NEW YORK) -- The Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights watchdog, told ABC News they have information they believe to be credible linking Nikolas Cruz, the Florida school shooting suspect, to a white supremacist group called Republic of Florida.

The ADL said ROF leader Jordan Jereb told them Cruz was associated with his group. Jereb, who is based in Tallahassee, said Cruz was brought into the group by another member and had participated in one or more ROF training exercises in the Tallahassee area, the ADL said. Law enforcement officials have not confirmed the link.

ROF has mostly young members in north and south Florida and describes itself as a “white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics” and seeks to create a “white ethnostate” in Florida.

Three former schoolmates of Cruz told ABC News that Cruz was part of the group. They claimed he marched with the group frequently and was often seen with Jereb, who also confirmed to ABC News that Cruz was, at least at one point, part of that group.

Jereb told the ADL that ROF had not ordered Cruz to take any such action. He told ABC News he has not spoken to Cruz in “some time” but said "he knew he would getting this call." He would not comment further but emphasized that his group was not a terrorist organization.

Authorities are still digging for clues to why Cruz allegedly opened fire outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, killing 17 people.

Family members, classmates and former friends described Cruz, a 19-year-old former student, as a troubled teen who was largely alone in the world when he allegedly stormed through the school carrying an AR-15 rifle and multiple magazines.

He was able to leave the school after the shooting by blending in with other students who were trying to escape, but he was apprehended shortly thereafter. He has been answering questions from investigators working on the case.

Cruz was adopted as an infant, but he had been living with the family of a classmate after the sudden death of his adoptive mother late last year. His adoptive father died in 2005.

In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, an attorney for the family that had taken Cruz in for the past few months said Cruz was “depressed” following his mother’s death but he had been going to therapy.

The family is still “shocked,” he said, that Cruz would allegedly engage in mass violence.

“They indicated they saw nothing like this coming,” Lewis said. “They never saw any anger, no bad feelings about the school.”

They were aware that Cruz was in possession of a military-style assault weapon, he said, which two law enforcement officials tell ABC News was legally purchased by Cruz within the past year from a federally licensed dealer. They insisted that it be locked in a safe.

“He brought it into the home and it was in a locked gun safe,” Lewis said. “That was the condition when he came into their home that the gun was locked away.”

Cruz’s former classmates, however, were less surprised.

A student who told ABC News that he participated in Junior ROTC with Cruz described him as a “psycho.” Cruz was a well-known weapons enthusiast, the student said, who once tried to sell knives to a classmate.

Another student told ABC News that before Cruz was expelled from the school he was barred from carrying a backpack on campus. The classmate said the rule was put in place after the school found bullet casings in his bag after a fight with another student.

One student said Cruz even once threatened to “shoot up” the school.

"About a year ago I saw him upset in the morning," student Brent Black told ABC News. "And I was like, 'yo what’s wrong with you?' And he was like 'umm, don’t know.' And I was like 'what’s up with you?' He's like 'I swear to God I'll shoot up this school.' And then I was like 'watch what you’re saying around me,' and then I just left him after that. He came up to me later on the day and apologized for what he said."

On Thursday, the FBI issued a statement saying that it was alerted in 2017 to a threat on YouTube by someone who said “I am going to be a school shooter.”

"In September 2017, the FBI received information about a comment made on a YouTube channel. The comment said, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” No other information was included in the comment which would indicate a particular time, location, or the true identity of the person who posted the comment. The FBI conducted database reviews and other checks, but was unable to further identify the person who posted the comment."

According to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, investigators have already found some “disturbing” content on social media that could have provided warning signs.

“We have already begun to dissect his websites and things on social media that he was on, and some of the things that have come to mind are very, very disturbing,” Israel said.

The photos posted on an Instagram account law enforcement sources tell ABC News belongs to the suspected shooter shows a young man displaying an arsenal of weapons.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb152018

Grief counselors offer support in the wake of Florida school shooting

@LucasDuprile/Twitter(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- After the mass shooting on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, grief counseling has been made available throughout Broward County for anyone who needs support, especially students and families.

Broward County Public Schools released a list of locations, as well as phone and email lines, where people reach grief counselors.

The grief counselors will also be onsite for students and staff at Westglades Middle School, according to the Broward County School District, and law enforcement will also have an increased presence at all Broward County schools.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School remains closed for the rest of the week, but support workers are available for the staff at Parkland Library.

Therapy dogs have also been enlisted in Parkland for additional comfort.

K-9 comfort dogs, affiliated with Lutheran Church Charities, have already been enlisted to help families of victims, survivors, students, faculty and first responders.

The dogs were invited to Parkland by Rev. Stephen Carretto of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of Boca Raton, Florida, according to a LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Facebook post.

Some dogs heading to help comfort the community have previously been deployed to be with victims of mass shootings in Las Vegas and Orlando.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb152018

High school shooting now among deadliest gun massacres in US history

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Another mass shooting that -- this time, at a high school in Parkland, Florida -- has changed the infamous rankings of the deadliest mass shootings in the nation's modern history.

On Wednesday, it was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County. In November, it was in a church in Texas. In October, it was at a country music festival in Nevada.

The list of the deadliest mass shootings spans 52 years and six states.

Four of the five worst gun massacres on the list -- including the deadliest, at a concert in Las Vegas -— occurred in just the past year and a half.

The country "has experienced an increase in mass casualty attacks" wrought by mentally troubled individuals "who commit mass murder in furtherance of some perceived grievance or ideological cause," John Cohen, a former counterterrorism coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security and a consultant for ABC News, said after the massacre in Las Vegas, in which 58 people were killed.

ABC News has compiled a list of the 11 deadliest mass shootings, which includes some incidents that had the same death tolls.

1. Route 91 Harvest Festival, Las Vegas – 58 deaths – Oct. 1, 2017

Stephen Paddock, from Mesquite, Nevada, was identified by authorities as the shooter holed up in a Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino hotel suite, packing as many as 19 guns. Around 10 p.m. he opened fire on thousands of country music concert attendees across the street below, killing 58 people; more than 500 others were injured.

2. Pulse nightclub, Orlando, Florida – 49 deaths – June 12, 2016

Around 2 a.m. Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old former security guard, opened fire and killed 49 people who were in an Orlando gay nightclub called Pulse. During the rampage, Mateen, a U.S. citizen, was killed by responding police in a shootout. His ISIS-inspired hate crime injured more than 50 other people. Law enforcement sources told ABC News that Omar Mateen's wife, Noor Mateen, had tried to dissuade him from committing the act. She was charged with aiding and abetting him, as well as committing obstruction. Noor Mateen has pleaded not guilty.

3. Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Virginia - 32 deaths - April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech senior Seung-hui Cho, 23, purchased a 9-mm Glock handgun on March 13, 2007, and a .22-caliber gun within a week before he started shooting people at the Blacksburg campus, including five professors and 26 fellow students. The South Korean–born Cho began his rampage in a dorm room, where two students were shot and killed. According to police, he rearmed at his dorm room and left a note before going out and killing 30 more people in four classrooms, He then turned a gun on himself.

4. (tied) Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut – 26 deaths – Dec. 14, 2012

Adam Lanza was 20 years old when he entered Sandy Hook Elementary School wearing a bulletproof vest and armed with a semiautomatic rifle and two semiautomatic handguns — a Glock and a Sig Sauer. He breached the school by shooting out a window pane of the front office, then gunned down and killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders and six adult school staff members. Not included in the death count is Lanza's mother, Nancy Lanza, who police say was slain before he arrived at the school, as well as Adam Lanza, who took his own life at the school.

4. (tied) First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas – at least 26 deaths – Nov. 5, 2017

At least 26 people were killed and 20 others were injured when a shooter opened fire at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. Further details of the shooting in the rural community, about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio, were not immediately clear.

5. Luby's Cafeteria truck ramming and shooting, Killeen, Texas – 23 deaths – Oct. 16, 1991

After slamming his Ford Ranger truck into the window of Luby's Cafeteria, 35-year-old George Jo Hennard said, according to The Killeen Daily Herald, "This is what the women of Bell County made me do." He then started firing his guns and murdered 23 people and left 20 more wounded. Ten of Hennard's victims were killed by single shots to the head. Once police responded, Hennard retreated to a restroom, where he killed himself.

6. McDonald's, San Ysidro, California – 21 deaths – July 18, 1984

James Oliver Huberty entered the fast food restaurant armed with a long-barreled Uzi, a pump-action shotgun and a handgun and took the lives of 21 adults and children and injured 19 others, including an elderly person and a baby, according to The San Diego Tribune. An hour after the shootings, a police sharpshooter killed Huberty, reported the Tribune. Before he went out to commit mass murder, he reportedly told his wife, "I'm going hunting ... hunting for humans," according to The New York Daily News.

7. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida - 17 deaths - February 14, 2018


A former student who had been expelled from a Florida high school returned to the campus and opened fire both inside and outside of the school, at times firing through the glass windows of classroom doors.

Authorities arrested 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman over disciplinary problems, in the aftermath of what has become the deadliest school shooting since an attack on an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

There were 17 people killed in the Valentine's Day shooting and more than a dozen others were injured, some critically.

8. (tied) University of Texas, Austin, Texas – 14 deaths – Aug. 1, 1966

U.S. Marine sniper Charles Joseph Whitman lugged a cache of rifles, pistols and a sawed-off shotgun up to the observation deck of the university's landmark clock tower. He then fired at will, striking unsuspecting students. He killed 14 people and wounded at least 30 others.

Whitman's terror was ultimately foiled after police officers Ramiro Martinez and Houston McCoy shot him dead.

Including the murders of his wife and mother, whom he killed earlier that day, the death toll stands at 16.

8. (tied) Inland Regional Center, San Bernardino, California – 14 deaths – Dec. 2, 2015

Husband and wife Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, dressed in tactical gear and armed themselves with assault rifles and pistols when they entered a mandatory Christmas party at a social services center where Syed worked, fatally shot 14 of his unarmed colleagues and left at least 17 others injured.

The couple then fled the center and died in a hail of bullets on a San Bernardino street when police caught up to their car.

On the day of the attack, FBI agents later confirmed, the couple researched ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi online.

8.(tied) Edmond Post Office, Edmond, Oklahoma – 14 deaths – Aug. 20, 1986

Patrick Henry Sherrill, 44, was a part-time postman who returned to his office a day after receiving a poor performance review. Armed with three handguns, he entered the federal building through the back and shot anyone in sight. He murdered 14 fellow postal workers 10 minutes before fatally shooting himself in the head. Authorities later determined Sherrill was angry that he might lose his job.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb152018

Florida school massacre: FBI received threat of potential shooter, but couldn't track it down

ABC News(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- A day after the Valentine’s Day massacre at a Florida high school left 17 people dead, the FBI said it received last year a threat of a potential shooter based on YouTube comments, including, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter," but couldn't track down the source.

"No other information was included with that comment which would indicate a time, location or the true identity of the person who made the comment," Robert Lasky, special agent in charge of the FBI Miami Division, said at a news conference Thursday.

The FBI conducted database reviews but was unable to “identify the person who made the comment," he added.

The agency has not confirmed a link to Wednesday's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, but the post has the same name as the school shooting suspect: 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

The FBI is conducting a review of how last year’s tip was handled and what lessons it can learn, an FBI official told ABC News.

Meanwhile, students, parents and faculty at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, are struggling to fathom why the former student allegedly opened fire there Wednesday as law enforcement officials searched for clues and the school district denied suggestions that it had been warned.

Besides the 17 killed, more than a dozen others were injured, some critically, after the suspect stormed the school.

Cruz -- who took an Uber to the school on Valentine's Day, according to Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie -- slipped away from the campus by blending in with other students who were trying to escape, police said. He was later apprehended.

Cruz was a former student who had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman over disciplinary problems. He had been barred from carrying a backpack on campus before the expulsion, according to law enforcement sources.

The school had “received no warning, no hints, no tips” about the suspected shooter, Runcie, the superintendent, told ABC Miami affiliate WPLG-TV.

Suspect Cruz had an AR-15-style rifle that he legally purchased in the past year from a federally licensed dealer, two law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Brody Speno, a neighbor who spent nearly a decade living a few doors down from Cruz, told ABC News that the suspected shooter was "aggressive, crazy weird, psycho."

Speno said he remembers one day when Cruz suddenly "cornered a squirrel and was pegging it with rocks trying to kill it."

Another neighbor, Malcolm Roxburgh, said Cruz would attack pets.

He called Cruz a "strange character" who always stood out from other teenagers in the neighborhood.

Roxburgh's most vivid memory of Cruz is his roaming the streets. Even in South Florida's sweltering heat, Roxburgh said, Cruz occasionally walked around in a camouflage jacket.

Since Wednesday's shooting, "copycat" threats were made at other schools, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said at today’s news conference.

"We will respond to every threat. Every threat we receive, we will not classify it as a copycat or prank call,” Israel said at a news conference. “We will respond in full and investigate it.”

But “any call that is made fictitiously, any fake call, any call that is made to take out resources at a time like this and place them in places where we don't need to be, we will do the full power of the sheriff's office. We'll investigate this and charge anyone accordingly with the maximum charge we possibly could for doing something so horrific, so pathetic.”

One false alarm at a nearby school this morning was unfounded, the sheriff's office said, but while at the school, "a deputy accidentally discharged his gun and injured his leg."

Among the 17 dead in the Valentine's Day shooting was school football coach and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduate Aaron Feis, according to the sheriff.

A former high school classmate called Feis a "hero."

Teacher Scott Biegel died while saving others, according to student Kelsey Friend.

Biegel unlocked a classroom door and allowed students to enter, Friend told "Good Morning America.”

"I had thought he was behind me ... but he wasn't," Friend said, crying.

"When he opened the door, he had to re-lock it so we can stay safe. And he didn't get the chance to," Friend said, noting that her teacher was lying on the floor.

Among the parents left mourning is Fred Guttenberg.

His heart is broken after losing his daughter, Jamie Guttenberg, in the shooting, he wrote on Facebook.

"I am broken as I write this trying to figure out how my family gets through this," he wrote. "Hugs to all and hold your children tight."

President Donald Trump said from the White House today, "Our entire nation with one heavy heart is praying for the victims and their families. To every parent, teacher and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do to ease your pain. We are all joined together as one American family. And your suffering is our burden, also."


"No parent should ever have to fear for their sons and daughters when they kiss them goodbye in the morning," he said. "Each person who was stolen from us yesterday had a full life ahead of them. A life filled with wondrous beauty and unlimited potential and promise. Each one had dreams to pursue, love to give and talents to share with the world."

In a proclamation, Trump ordered all flags to fly at half-staff "as a mark of solemn respect for the victims of the terrible act."

Cruz was booked into the Broward County Jail and charged with 17 counts of pre-meditated murder. He has been answering investigators' questions, two law enforcement sources told ABC News. He briefly appeared in court this afternoon and was held on no bond.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb152018

Video shows sheriff’s deputies using stun gun on 400-pound man who died in custody

Barrow County Sheriff's Office(BARROW COUNTY, Ga.) -- As Georgia investigators released a video showing sheriff's deputies using a stun gun to subdue a handcuffed 400-pound man who died during a struggle at a jail, the man's distraught mother told ABC News, "I want justice for my son," and voiced suspicion over the scenario authorities say led to his death.

The video of Charles Williams, 30, being hit with a stun gun in the back of a parked police cruiser at the Barrow County Detention Center in January was made public this week by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is tasked with determining if the use of force on Williams was a criminal act.

But Williams' mother, Mary Sojka, told ABC News that after watching the video, she believes the force sheriff's deputies used on her 6-foot-4, 400-pound son "was excessive."

"Now, I'm pissed off about the whole thing because of what they did to him," Sojka said in an emotional phone interview on Wednesday. "Now, I'm angry because I don't want this to happen to any other mother."

Williams death occurred on Jan. 27 after he was arrested in Auburn, Georgia, on suspicion of battery on a woman and cruelty to children, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

The probe determined that Williams was arrested without incident, handcuffed with his hands behind his back and placed in the rear of a police car.

During the 10-minute ride to the Barrow County Detention Center in nearby Winder, "Williams became combative as his transport vehicle arrived at the detention center," investigators said in the statement.

"Once in the sally port of the jail, he began kicking the interior of the patrol vehicle. Williams managed to move his handcuffs from behind his back to his front," the statement reads. "Barrow County Sheriff’s Office personnel attempted to talk Williams out of the vehicle, but he continued to be belligerent."

In a nine-minute video released by investigators and viewed by ABC News, a sheriff's deputy tells Williams, "Sir, you're gonna be be tased if you don't cooperate."

The footage, shot with a handheld camera, shows one deputy opening the rear door of the police car, and another crawling through the rear door on the opposite side of the vehicle.

"Tase him!" one of the deputies yells and a stun gun shot is heard emanating from inside the car. Williams is heard in the video screaming and shouting obscenities at deputies, and continuing to struggle and kick as they wrestle him out of the car and onto the ground.

"Calm down," one of the deputies repeatedly tells Williams.

At least five deputies pile on top of Williams and at least one appears to punch him in the stomach, the video shows.

About seven minutes into the video, Williams suddenly stops moving and goes limp as deputies shout at him to "Wake up!" Toward the end of the footage, a deputy shouts, "Start CPR," as sirens are heard in the background.

Williams was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, where he was pronounced dead.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials said Wednesday that the probe into Williams death is ongoing. They said an autopsy was performed on Jan. 30, but final results are pending more tests.

"I've been shocked throughout this whole ordeal," Sojka said of her son's death. "They wouldn't even let me go see my son in the hospital. They wouldn't even tell me what hospital he was in. I later found out it was only 10 minutes from my house."

She said she last saw her son several weeks before he died.

"The next time I saw my son, it was at the funeral home and I could only see his face sticking out of a body bag," she told ABC News.

She said her son had no known heart problems or any medical conditions that would have exacerbated his death.

"He was just a big dude. He was a protector of people. He would go out of his way for friends or anybody. He would give his shirt off his back," she said. "I'm gonna miss him picking me up and giving me bear hugs. He was bigger than life. He had a large jovial laugh."

Attorney Rod Dixon, who Sojka hired to investigate her son's death, said there are at least three other videos taken of the incident that resulted in Williams' death, but he says authorities have not allowed him or the family to view them.

Dixon said that through his investigation, he learned that Williams was arrested after he confronted a woman he suspected was abusing her children on the street.

"It's unclear why, but for some reason, he believed that a lady across the street from him was was being abusive to her kids. He went across the street to confront her. The confrontation escalated to the point he pushed her and she called the police."

Sojka said she's not surprised by the circumstances of her son's arrest.

"That's because he was wanting to protect those children, so yes he would have done that," Sojka said. "If he thought someone was in danger, that's the way he was, he'd go and protect that person."

She also said her son had a history of being claustrophobic, and believes that's why be became agitated while confined in the back of a police car. But she said the deputies could have waited for her son to calm down in the back of the police car before trying to remove him and resorting to using a stun gun.

Dixon said he also learned through his investigation that deputies not only shot Williams with a Taser, they allegedly used handheld stun guns on him twice.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation would only refer ABC News to its statement, which reads, "A Taser was deployed by one of the deputies to gain control of Williams. He continued to be combative and fought with deputies after the Taser was used."

Sojka said she won't rest until she gets satisfactory answers.

"The only thing that's running through my mind is they're hiding things," she said. "I want justice for my son. I do think there was excessive force used on him. How are you going to tell him to 'calm down' if you're punching him and hitting him with a Taser?"

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb152018

Students, parents desperate for answers as police investigate Florida school massacre

ABC News(PARKLAND, Fla.) -- Students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida gathered near campus late Wednesday night, hoping for updates on their friends and classmates, as police continued to investigate the mass shooting that took place a few hours earlier.

Police were combing the school and social media for clues on what may have caused the suspect to storm the school with an AR-15 rifle, fatally shoot at least 17 people and injure more than a dozen. Victims included students and adults, police said.

Authorities arrested 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who was expelled from Marjory Stoneman over disciplinary problems, in the aftermath of what has become the deadliest school shooting since an attack on an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

The suspect slipped away from the Parkland, Florida, high school campus by blending in with other students who were trying to escape, police said. Cruz later was apprehended in Coral Springs, just outside Parkland and about 30 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale.

Students and parents were still close to the scene at Marjory Stoneman, a school with about 3,000 students, several hours after the shooting, waiting for updates from police. Some were seen kneeling and crying while others held pictures of missing classmates.

One student at the scene, 17-year-old junior Dakota Mutchler, said he knew something was wrong when the school carried out two fire drills back-to-back, which he said "was odd because they don't do two fire drills in the same day."

"Everyone started lining up in the field like they were supposed to, and then you started seeing kids running," Mutchler told ABC News late Wednesday. "It became clear that it was no longer a drill. It was the real thing."

Mutchler, desperate for information on two missing friends, said knew the suspect but that they stopped speaking when Cruz began to act violent towards others.

Cruz would often post videos on social media of his killing or harming animals, said Mutchler, adding that the suspect also threatened a female friend of his once.

"Everyone in school, like those that knew him, speculated about him," Mutchler continued. "He got suspended a lot of times and he sold knives in his lunch boxes and he was expelled, but no one expected him to come back and shoot. He started progressively getting a little more weird and I kind of cut off from him because I felt like he was a bad influence on me."

The suspect tried adding Mutchler on on Snapchat a few weeks ago, but he "just declined it because I didn't want to talk to him."

Others students on the scene who knew Cruz described him as someone with a penchant for weapons and violence and that he'd talked about having "target practice in his backyard" with a pellet gun.

"He was in my class in seventh grade," Gabrielle Pupo, a survivor of the attack, told reporters Wednesday night. "I knew he wasn't OK when he punched the window in and said, 'I'm gonna cause karma one day,' because he got in trouble with the teacher."

Pupo said she saw Cruz shoot a faculty member and coach at the school, Aaron Feis.

"I heard the shots, and then I saw the shooter run after Mr. Feis, and I saw Mr. Feis get shot," Pupo said. "Today he tried blending into the crowd and was talking to one of my friends as he was exiting."

"He was very focused on what he was doing," she added.

Pupo, who came to the scene Wednesday night to light candles for two missing friends, is one of the many students holding out hope as police work inside to identify the victims.

Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old senior, said she was also looking for two friends who went missing after the tragedy.

"We called her family and they don't know either," Olvera said, holding up a picture of a "close friend" believed to be in the freshman building when the shooting happened. "It's not real. It doesn’t feel real at all.”

Witnesses reported a barrage of gunfire around 2:40 p.m., near dismissal time. Video posted on social media showed students were fleeing from the shooting with their hands in the air. One student said he had to climb a fence to escape.

"My teacher thought it was a firecracker, but then a gunshot went off again, so I started running out of my class," a student, who only gave his first name, Amar, said in an Instagram post. He said his teacher tried to usher him back into the classroom, but he was afraid of getting trapped in the building.

"I couldn't. I had to go," he said. "I jumped the gate as quick as I can."

Survivors of the shooting have flooded social media with images from the scene, with some sharing video from inside classrooms as teachers and faculty tried to keep students calm amid sounds of rapid gunfire.

The school will be closed the rest of the week, and grief counselors will be made available for students beginning this morning, officials said.

The FBI has encouraged anyone with potentially useful pictures or videos of the incident to upload them online.

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