President Trump addressed the nation this morning about the school shooting that took place in the town of Parkland just north of Miami, Florida on Wednesday, echoing sentiments from his earlier tweets.
My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2018
So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2018
The nation is mourning the loss of 17 people killed on Valentine's Day in that high school mass shooting.
We've learned more about the alleged gunman, an orphaned 19-year-old former student at the school. Students and teachers say they saw warnings signs that he posed a danger to the school.
Those familiar with suspect Nikolas Cruz say he was a loner, an outcast who barely interacted with other students when he attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Cruz had been expelled from the Parkland, Florida school for disciplinary reasons and some teachers warned he could come back and cause trouble.
Come back he did – armed with an assault rifle.
MORE: Former Student Opens Fire at Florida High School, Kills 17
"He had a countless magazines, multiple magazines and at this point he had one AR-15 rifle. I don't know if he had a second one," explained Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.
It was near the end of the school day, when just after 2 PM Cruz allegedly entered the school. The fire alarm was set off and that's when students say he started shooting them in the hallway as they left their classrooms.
"We thought it was just another fire drill because we had another one earlier, but as soon as the fire drill got pulled, the fire alarm got pulled and kids were evacuating, I heard five pops," explained a female student.
Several students captured the tragedy on their smart phones – one showed some of the gunfire.
Police rushed to the scene and one officer could be heard on his radio saying, "I have the gunshot victim. He's by the entrance on the west side of the school."
As SWAT teams moved in, students barricaded themselves under classroom desks, some texting their parents in what could have been a final, desperate act of communication.
"She kept telling me to stay away, you stay. Be safe mom, you stay away. And I kept telling her, 'No Crystal, I'm your mother, I'm not staying away,'" one mother said.
Students fled the building, most with their hands raised over their heads. many abandoned their backpacks as paramedics treated the wounded and took them away on stretchers.
An hour after the shooting began, the gunman was still at large.
Traumatized students mourned their lost friends. Worried parents just wanted to know if their children were safe.
"We can't get to her, we can't get a hold of her. You've texted and nothing has come back? Her boyfriend got shot we heard," said one parent.
One traumatized student said she saw her teacher shot in front of her.
"We saw his body for like 30-minutes and we're just like praying, and crying and then the police came and we just got out."
The suspect was taken into custody nearly two hours after the shooting.
Broward County Superintendent of Schools Robert Runcie made an appeal to the people of Parkland. "I ask the community for their prayers, um their support, for these children and their families," he said.
"We're furious," said Florida Governor Rick Scott. "How could this ever happen in this country, how could this happen in this state?"
But it did happen, even though students and teachers saw multiple potential warning signs. Some students had even said in the past that if anyone was going to shoot up the school, it would be Nikolas Cruz.
The suspect's mother Lynda Cruz died of pneumonia on Nov. 1 friends and family members told the Sun Sentinel. Her husband died of a heart attack several years ago. The couple had adopted Nikolas and his biological brother, Zachary.
One 17-year-old junior at the school said Cruz was expelled last school year because he got into a fight with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. She also said he had been abusive to his girlfriend.
"I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him," she said.
Unlike killers in other mass shootings, the troubled 19-year-old alleged shooter did not kill himself, and wasn't gunned down by police. Since he's still alive, he'll face justice and trial.
In the state of Florida, that means he could potentially face the death penalty if convicted of this horrific crime.
The Parkland shooting is now the nation's deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago. That Dec. 14, 2012, assault at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown killed 26 people: 20 first-graders and six staff members.