By Bernie Woodall
PARKLAND, Fla. (Reuters) – A shooter opened fire at a Florida high school on Wednesday, killing multiple people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets before being taken into custody by law enforcement, authorities said.
Shortly before students were to be dismissed for the day, the sound of gunfire ripped through the air, Broward County school officials said on Twitter, adding that multiple people had been injured in the incident.
The suspect was taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon, a sheriff's spokesman said.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, about 45 miles (72 km) north of Miami, had been placed on a "code red" lockdown but had no information on how many people had been injured, a spokeswoman for the county sheriff's office said. The sheriff's office said on Twitter that the shooter was still at large.
Multiple people died, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida told MSNBC.
"There are a number of fatalities," Nelson said, citing a conversation with the superintendent of schools.
Students hid in classrooms until they were rescued by police in tactical gear, friends and family members said.
A person who identified herself as the sister of a student at the school described the scene in a text message to Reuters: "She heard him shooting through the windows of classrooms and two students were shot."
Panicked parents checked on their children.
"My daughter, as of right now, she's still trapped in a closet. She's afraid to speak," a man who identified himself as Caesar Figueroa and said his daughter was inside the school, told CBS News.
"I told her, ‘Don't call me, because I don't want no one to hear your voice.' So, she's still trapped in a closet in there."
Live television showed dozens of students, weaving their way between law enforcement officers with heavy weapons and helmets, and large numbers of emergency vehicles including police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks.
Florida Governor Rick Scott said on Twitter that had he had been in touch with local officials about the incident.
The shooting was the latest in a deadly series of attacks at U.S. schools. A 15-year-old gunman in January killed two students at a Benton, Kentucky, high school.
"My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting," U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter. "No child, teacher, or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school."