The 14th of February was not a day of love for the 3,200 students at a Florida based school in the United States, as a former student claimed the lives of 17 people, including staff and students in yet another mass shooting which has shaken the US.
19-year-old Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, the school from which he had been expelled for unspecified disciplinary reasons, at 2.30pm and set-off the fire alarm drawing a flood of unexpecting students from their classrooms and into the hallways.
Armed with an AR-15 assault rifle – the same type of semi-automatic gun marketed for law-enforcement – the killer exploited the disorientation of the students and staff and began opening fire for what survivors recall, seemed like a lifetime.
Wearing a gas-mask, Cruz moved from classroom to classroom opening fire without so much as a second thought while students huddled in corners and under desks with their teachers, fearing for their lives and the lives of their friends.
A 15-year-old student would later tell his parents how he’d fallen to the floor and feigned death when he saw the gunmen enter his classroom. Once the shooter had left, he would get up and find that two people in the same room had been killed.
Parents did receive messages of love from their children, but not born out of joy and safety. Sarah Crescitelli hid in the drama building with her classmates and texted her mother, “If I don’t make it I love you and I appreciate everything you did for me”.
In another part of the school Cruz was reloading from his seemingly endless stock of ammunition, police would later that day find stacks of assault rifle magazines in his bedroom.
As he began to fire again his aim did not fall only on students. Football coach and security guard, Aaron Feis reportedly shielded his students by stepping directly into the path of Cruz’s rampage.
Feis did not survive.
Cruz was apprehended when the SWAT team arrived and questioned surviving students and teachers as to the identity of the gunmen. They chased him down to his home and placed him into FBI custody for questioning.
The survivors were rushed to the nearest hospital where some have undergone surgery and are currently recuperating.
Scott Israel, Sheriff of Broward county, stated that Cruz’s social media pages bore all the warning signs of someone who was on the brink of lashing out.
“Investigators found that things were very, very disturbing”, added Israel.
Authorities have added that some students are still unaccounted for, but that the death toll seems to have stopped at 17.
Israel took the opportunity before the media to state that regulations surrounding the sale of guns to people with mental issues should be introduced immediately.
This marks the 1,516th shooting in 1,735 days in the United States. The 30th mass shooting for 2018.
US President Donald Trump has yet to comment on the events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, having only tweeted his condolences and prayers for the victims and their families.