Sheriff: 17 dead in Florida school shooting, suspect had at least 1 rifle

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PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — 6:05 p.m.

A sheriff says 17 people have died in the shooting attack on a South Florida high school.

Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County says the 19-year-old suspect is in custody and that investigators are beginning to "dissect" what happened in the attack Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

He says the suspect, a former student, was previously expelled for disciplinary reasons.

Israel says the man had at least one rifle and multiple magazines.

He says most of the fatalities were inside the building though some were found fatally shot outside.

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5:40 p.m.

A man says he watched as officers arrested the suspect in the shooting at a Florida high school, where authorities are reporting numerous deaths.

Michael Nembhard told The Associated Press he was in his garage watching TV news coverage of the shooting when he heard a police officer repeatedly yelling, "get on the ground!"

Nembhard says he looked up to see a teenage boy on the ground about 150 yards (meters) away with an officer pointing a gun at him. The officer stood over the boy until other officers arrived, handcuffed him and led him away.

A federal official who spoke on condition of anonymity identified the suspect as Nicolas Cruz. The official says he wasn't authorized to discuss it publicly.

Authorities say the suspect is a former student about 18 years old.

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5:20 p.m.

A federal official has identified the Florida school shooting suspect as Nicolas Cruz.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The official says he had been briefed on the investigation into the shooting at the South Florida high school, but was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Authorities in Florida say the shooter opened fire at the school Wednesday afternoon, killing "numerous" people. The shooting sent frightened students running out into the streets and SWAT team members swarming the building.

Authorities later announced that they had taken a former student, about 18 years old, into custody after locating him off the school grounds.

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UPDATE (5:10 p.m.):

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says the shooting suspect is an 18-year-old former student at the South Florida school where the shooting erupted.

He says 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."

Said the sheriff: "This is a terrible day ... This is catastrophic."

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A shooter opened fire at a Florida high school Wednesday, killing "numerous" people, sending students running out into the streets and SWAT team members swarming in before authorities took the shooter into custody.

Frantic parents rushed to the scene and ambulances converged in front of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Live footage showed emergency workers appearing to treat possibly wounded people on the sidewalks.

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."

Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said there were "numerous fatalities."

It is a horrific situation." He added, "It is a horrible day for us."

Len Murray's 17-year-old son, a junior at the school, sent his parents a chilling text around 2:30pm: "Mom and Dad, there have been shots fired on campus at school. There are police sirens outside. I'm in the auditorium and the doors are locked."

A few minutes later, he texted again: "I'm fine."

Television footage showed police in olive fatigues, with weapons drawn, entering the school, then dozens of children frantically running and walking quickly out. A police officer waved the students on, urging them to quickly evacuate. Some students exited the building in single-file rows with hands raised overhead to show they carried no weapons. Others held onto other students as they made their way out past helmeted police in camouflage with weapons drawn.

The Broward Schools department said on its website that students and staff heard what sounded like gunfire and the school immediately went on lockdown.

Murray said he raced to the school only to be stopped by authorities under a highway overpass within view of the school buildings. He said he told his son to save his battery and stop texting, while the boy's mother told him to turn off his ringer.

No information has been provided yet to parents, he said. "I'm scared for the other parents here. You can see the concern in everybody's faces. Everybody is asking, 'Have you heard from your child yet?'" Murray said.

Murray said he's had just one thought running through his mind since he got his son's text: "All I keep thinking about is when I dropped him off this morning - I usually say, 'I love you,' and I didn't think morning. He's 17, he's at that age, and I didn't say it this morning, and I'm just kicking myself right now over and over and over. Say it early and often, I'm telling you."

The high school is a sprawling complex set on a tract in the South Florida community of Parkland, about 45 miles (70 kilometers) north of downtown Miami.

The school had just over 3,100 students in the 2016-2017 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Major streets run along two sides and an expressway passes nearby on the other not far from a residential neighborhood of single family homes.

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Associated Press writer Jennifer N. Kay contributed to this report.