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The Latest: Students Resume Classes At Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Amid An Increased Security Presence

Debate and protests continue to rage over how to respond to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 students and faculty members dead.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

People wait in line to visit Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 25, as students and parents were allowed on campus for the first time since the shooting that killed 17 people on Feb. 14.

What We Know So Far

  • Seventeen people were killed when a former student school opened fire on a high school in Parkland, Florida. These are the victims.
  • The suspected shooter, identified as Nikolas Cruz, was armed with an AR-15 rifle and "countless magazines" of ammunition. He had previously been identified as a potential threat to fellow students. Here's what we know about him.
  • Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. His attorneys said he planned to offer a guilty plea in order to avoid the death penalty.
  • The local sheriff said the sole armed deputy on campus waited outside the school building and did not confront the shooter.
  • Since the shooting, thousands of students called for gun restrictions outside the White House and outside the Florida capitol in Tallahassee.
  • President Trump's spokesperson said he hasn't closed the door on an assault weapons ban.
  • These are the hoaxes already going around about the shooting.


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Students make an emotional return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as classes resume for the first time since the shooting

The door I used to walk through every day now covered in a memorial. Welcome back, eagles.

Students have returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where classes resumed for the first time since the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 of their classmates and faculty members dead.

They made the emotionally fraught return to campus on Wednesday, and were welcomed by a strong law enforcement presence and well-wishers.

As students return to #MSDStrong ... 14 days after the massacre of 17 - this is the new security they'll see on cam…

"I pray that today is the beginning of our long and difficult journey from grief, sorrow and anger to a new consciousness of hope, compassion and love," Robert Runcie, superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, said in a tweet Wednesday. "Thank you to our young people for leading the way. Welcome Back!"

Some students expressed their apprehension about returning to the site of the tragedy.

Addressing her classmates in a tweet on Tuesday night, Aly Sheehy said, "I’m not going to lie, I’ve been dreading going back to school tomorrow. It will be weird. I will most definitely cry. However, we will do it together, we can face this. And to all friends, teachers, or even strangers be ready for a huge hug. #MSDStrong."

Good morning Eagles: here is today’s schedule. Everyone will start in 4th Block as we RECLAIM the NEST

The school will hold classes for four hours a day this week, from 7:40 a.m. to 11:40 a.m., as part of a modified schedule.

"Today is a sad day but it needs to happen and it's here," Ty Goodman, the father of two survivors, said in a tweet. "My kids @tgiii_ and @madigoodman_ r heading back to school today so I ask God to keep his hand upon them and protect them and allow healing to begin. Please keep #Douglas in ur prayers."

Read more here.

—Tasneem Nashrulla

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Dick's Sporting Goods, a major sports equipment retailer, said Wednesday morning it would stop carrying assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines. All AR-15s and semiautomatic rifles will be removed from its stores and website, the New York Times first reported.

The announcement comes two weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead. The company also said it would no longer sell firearms to people under 21 years of age, regardless of local laws.

Read the full story here.

—Cora Lewis

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After firing into classrooms and hallways, Nikolas Cruz, the suspected shooter in the Florida school attack, tried to fire at the fleeing crowd from a third-floor window, but it was hurricane-resistant and wouldn't shatter, according to local reports.

Cruz reportedly tried to shoot out the window in a teacher's lounge as students were fleeing Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, but the windows of the building wouldn't give way, according to reports.

The Miami-Herald reported that Cruz would have had "a clear sight line" into the courtyard below from the window, as students ran out trying to escape the gunfire inside.

CBS Miami reported the alleged shooter fired as many as 16 rounds at the window.

Impact-resistant hurricane windows are typically made from a glass with a resin that keeps the material from shattering.

Cruz still had more than 150 rounds of ammunition, but walked out trying to blend in with other students, according to the report.

—Salvador Hernandez

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Despite the National Rifle Association's staunch opposition to raising the minimum age to buy certain firearms from 18 to 21, President Trump "still supports" the idea and is expected to discuss it with bipartisan lawmakers on Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday.

Last week, Trump tweeted his support for raising the age to buy certain firearms to 21 and suggested that he was willing to fight the NRA "every once in a while."

However, despite Trump's promises on a broad range of gun control actions, Republicans in Congress are divided and nowhere near formalizing a plan to address ending gun violence. According to some reports, Trump himself appeared to back away from his earlier proposal to increase the age limit, after failing to mention it during his address at the Conservative Political Action Conference and during a two-hour meeting with governors on Monday.

The NRA, whose support Trump enjoys, has strongly opposed the idea, arguing it would deprive "law-abiding adults aged 18–20 years old" of their "constitutional right to self-protection."

NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch told ABC News on Sunday that Trump had not formally endorsed the proposal and that "these are just things that he’s discussing right now."

On Tuesday, however, Sanders suggested Trump was willing to take on the NRA.

"The president still supports raising the age limit to 21 for the purchase of certain firearms," Sanders told reporters, adding that she expected it "to be a topic of discussion" during Trump's meeting with a group of bipartisan lawmakers on Wednesday.

"He knows that everybody doesn't necessarily agree," Sanders said. "We're not going to get into the details on the specifics of what we will propose but expect that to be part of the conversation tomorrow."

—Tasneem Nashrulla

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When Nikolas Cruz, the suspected perpetrator of the Florida school shooting, turned 18, he refused mental health treatment being provided by the school district — and there was nothing school authorities could do, according to the district superintendent.

Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said Cruz also chose not to attend a school for children with behavior issues, despite a recommendation from specialists in December 2016. Cruz was classified as a special-needs student but as he was a legal adult, he had the right to make those choices about his schooling.

“You can’t make someone do something when the law says they have the right to make that determination,” said Runcie in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel on Monday.

Runcie explained that from January until June 2016, Cruz spent half his day at Stoneman Douglas and half at a center for children with behavioral issues.

Runcie also revealed that five of the 215 teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and around 10 children have asked for transfers, which the district will accommodate.

Students will return to class for the first time since the shooting on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Runcie said Monday that safety enhancements such as metal detectors and bulletproof glass were still being examined.

Amber Jamieson

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FedEx says it doesn't agree with the NRA's positions on gun policy, but will continue to give members group discounts

FedEx responds to questions on the National Rifle Association, gun safety and policy

After mounting pressure on social media to boycott the NRA, FedEx said it would continue its relationship with the gun advocacy group despite differing policy views.

"FedEx opposes assault rifles being in the hands of civilians. While we strongly support the constitutional right of US citizens to own firearms subject to appropriate background checks, FedEx views assault rifles and large capacity magazines as an inherent potential danger to schools, workplaces, and communities when such weapons are misused. We therefore support restricting them to the military," the company said.

Citing the "horrific tragedy in Florida," FedEx wrote that it "believes urgent action is required at the local, state, and federal level to protect schools and students," but noted that it will continue to dole out shipping discounts of up to 26% to members of the gun rights group.

"FedEx is a common carrier under Federal law and therefore does not and will not deny service or discriminate against any legal entity regardless of their policy positions or political views," it continued. "The NRA is one of hundreds of organizations in our alliances/association Marketing program whose members receive discounted rates for FedEx shipping."

The company's response is the latest example of companies either breaking ties with the NRA or choosing to stand with the gun rights group.

—Brianna Sacks

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President Trump would have tried to "take a courageous action" at the Florida school shooting, his spokesperson says

President Trump's remark that he would have rushed into a Florida school shooting meant that he would have been a leader at the scene and tried to "take a courageous action," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday.

She added that Trump "would have stepped in and hopefully been able to help" at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, when 17 people died after alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz opened fire.

"He was saying that he would be a leader and would want to take a courageous action," Sanders said. "A lot of the individuals that helped protect others that day weren't carrying firearms, which I think shows that you can be helpful in that process without it."

Earlier on Monday, Trump told a group of governors that he believed he would have rushed into the school, adding, “You never know until you’re tested."

In the days following the shooting, officials said that an armed school resource deputy waited outside the building as the violence unfolded inside. Trump has said the deputy — who has defended his actions — lacked courage.

During the press briefing, Sanders compared Trump's comments about rushing into the shooting to the actions of some staff members and students who "stepped up and helped protect other students."

"I think the point he was making is that he would have wanted to have played a role in that as well," Sanders said.

—Jim Dalrymple II

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After President Trump said he lacked "courage," and his own boss said his inaction had made him "sick to my stomach," Broward Country Deputy Scot Peterson — the resource officer at the Florida school where a shooter killed 17 people this month — has released his own version of events in a letter on Monday.

A letter released by Peterson's attorney and addressed to the "South Florida Community & the American Public," states that the former officer "is confident that his actions on that day were appropriate under the circumstances" and that video and eyewitness testimony "will exonerate him of any sub-par performance."

After viewing security footage from the school last Thursday, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson was armed and in uniform but never went in to confront the suspected shooter.

Read more here.

—Talal Ansari

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A 17-year-old student who survived multiple gunshot wounds says she "wouldn't be here" without the officers, first responders, and doctors who saved her life

Madeleine Wilford, who underwent three surgeries after being shot multiple times during the rampage at Stoneman Douglas High, expressed her gratitude for the first responders and doctors who saved her life.

At a press conference Monday, an emotional Wilford said, "I'm so grateful to be here and it wouldn't be possible without the officers and first responders and these amazing doctors and especially all the love that everyone has sent. I was sitting on my couch today, just thinking about all the letters and gifts everyone has given and just, like, all the love that has been passed around. I wouldn't be here without it."

Wilford was one of the survivors who Trump visited at the hospital and whose photo he featured in one of his reelection campaign emails.

Morgan Williams, another survivor of the shooting, lambasted the president on Twitter for using her friend's photo in his campaign email, saying: "Don’t you fucking dare use a photo of one of my best friends for your benefit. If you truly cared, maybe you would have stayed at the hospital longer than 20 minutes."

However, Wilford's mother, Missy Wilford, said that the family was "grateful" for the president's visit.

"I'm just grateful to be sitting here next to my daughter," her father, David Wilford, said at the press conference.

Wilford's doctors at Broward Health North medical center said she was "very, very lucky to be alive."

—Tasneem Nashrulla

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President Trump told a group of state governors Monday that he would have rushed into Stoneman Douglas High School if he had been there during the shooting.

“I really believe I would have,” the president said. “You never know until you’re tested.”

Trump discussed gun reform, including plans to strengthen background checks, ban bump stocks, and arm teachers.

He also told the group that he had lunch with National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre and other NRA leadership over the weekend, adding, "Don’t worry about the NRA; they’re on our side."

He said that the NRA wants to "do something" to address school and gun safety.

Trump told the group that there is "no bigger fan of the Second Amendment" than him, and reiterated a wish to increase access to mental institutions.

The president also said he would take legislative action on bump stocks without Congress, if necessary, and said he wanted to make it easier for law enforcement to take guns away from people with mental illnesses.

“We’re going to have to start talking about mental institutions,” Trump said.

“In the old days,” he added, it was easier to commit people who acted “like a boiler ready to explode.”

Trump blamed some of the governors present at the meeting for the decline in mental health services, citing some institutions closing due to costs.

Trump acknowledged that “sometimes” the governors would have to fight the NRA, and said that many of them are “so scared.”

—Cora Lewis

Trump on sheriff deputies' response to the Parkland shooting: "The way they performed was frankly disgusting...I re…

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People say they are canceling their trips to Florida and boycotting the state until politicians pass gun control legislation

@Shawnfor63 @bri_sacks My family just cancelled our $5000 Florida spring break vacation today because you and your…

People on social media are declaring that they have canceled their spring break trips and family vacations to Florida in an attempt to hurt the state's tourism industry and pressure politicians to pass gun control laws.

The #BoycottFlorida campaign took off Saturday after student-activist David Hogg suggested people punish the state's inaction with their wallets. "I usually go to Florida for #SpringBreak, but I'm not going this year," one Twitter user replied. Others said they had rebooked planned trips to destinations other than the Sunshine State.

"I normally go to Florida to visit relatives every year. This year I'm skipping it until action is taken," another user announced.

Let's make a deal DO NOT come to Florida for spring break unless gun legislation is passed. These politions won't l…

I usually go to Florida for #SpringBreak, but I’m not going this year. Are you? HT: @davidhogg111…

@kurteichenwald @davidhogg111 Ditto - we just cancelled Florida and rebooked to another location - great idea.

@kurteichenwald @davidhogg111 #boycottFlorida I normally go to Florida to visit relatives every year. This year I'm…

—Brianna Sacks

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Ivanka Trump says she doesn't know if arming teachers will make schools safer

Ivanka Trump said Sunday that she wasn't sure if arming teachers, for which her father has advocated repeatedly, would make students safer in schools.

"To be honest, I don't know," she said in an interview with NBC in South Korea. "Obviously, there would have to be an incredibly high standard for who would be able to bear arms in our school. But I think there is no one solution for creating safety."

When asked whether she was advising her father on the issue, she responded, "I think that having a teacher who is armed who cares deeply about her students or his students and who is capable and qualified to bear arms is not a bad idea, but it is an idea that needs to be discussed."

President Trump tweeted Saturday that arming teachers would be "a big & very inexpensive deterrent" to mass shooters but that the decision would be "up to states." He also said that teachers who are armed should "should get yearly bonus."

Armed Educators (and trusted people who work within a school) love our students and will protect them. Very smart p…

The president’s daughter has been leading the US delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang since Friday, meeting with athletes and diplomats. She met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and told him that she would use her time there to advocate for North Korea to cancel its nuclear program.

—Blake Montgomery

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Hundreds of students and families walked through the gates of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Sunday for the first time since a shooter killed 17 students and teachers on Valentine's Day.

See more photos from the emotional return here.

Brianna Sacks

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott says the state will investigate how local law enforcement handled the Parkland shooting

After calls from Republican legislators in Florida for Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel to be suspended, Gov. Rick Scott said Sunday that he won't suspend the sheriff, but that the state's Department of Law Enforcement will investigate how the response to the shooting was handled.

"I have asked for FDLE to immediately investigate the law enforcement response and will continue to review this matter as more facts come out. There must be an independent investigation and that is why I asked the FDLE Commissioner to immediately start this process,” the governor said in a statement.

Gov. Rick Scott will NOT suspend Broward Sheriff Scott Israel over the police response to Marjory Stoneman Douglas…

Israel is facing criticism in light of the fact that at least one armed deputy was on site but did not intervene during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. His office is also facing questions about what action his department took on dozens of phone calls involving shooter Nikolas Cruz and his family.

Read more here.

Nidhi Prakash

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The Broward sheriff says he won't resign, despite criticism of how he handled the Florida school shooting

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Sunday that he won't resign, after reports that armed county deputies from his department were on the scene but did not enter the school during the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed.

Florida State Rep. Bill Hager wrote a letter to Gov. Rick Scott on Saturday calling for Israel's resignation.

"It was a shameful letter. I will not resign," Israel told CNN's Jake Tapper on State of the Union. "I never met that man. He doesn't know anything about me and the letter was full of misinformation."

He later added, "I can only take responsibility for what I knew about. I exercised my due diligence. I've given amazing leadership to this agency."

Read more here.

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Broward County sheriff's officials said in a statement late Saturday they they responded only to 23 calls involving suspected Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz or his family over the years, but records obtained by BuzzFeed News show at least 45 responses since 2008.

The number of calls made over the years involving Cruz or his family, according to the call records, are nearly twice the number publicly disclosed by the department.

On Saturday night, the Broward County Sheriff's Office released a statement pushing back on reports that they had been called more than the 23 incidents released by the department.

"Since 2008, BSO responded to 23 incidents where previous contact was made with the killer or his family," the sheriff's office said in its statement. "STOP REPORTING 39; IT'S SIMPLY NOT TRUE."

The Broward County Sheriff's Office did not respond to BuzzFeed News' questions about the additional calls, or how it determined to include the 23 calls that were disclosed to the public, but not the others.

Read more here.

—Salvador Hernandez


Nikolas Cruz's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.

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President Trump said he's open to raising the legal age to purchase weapons like the AR-15 — the rifle used by the suspected Florida school shooter — from 18 to 21.

"It doesn't seem to make sense that you have to wait 'til you're 21 years old to get a pistol, but to get a gun like this maniac used in the school, you get that at 18," Trump said Saturday during a phone interview with Jeanine Pirro on Fox News.

Trump said he has discussed the idea with the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun rights group, and that he expects a bill that will include similar provisions to be introduced in Congress "very soon."

The president said the bill might also include stronger background checks.

Trump's comments come as the White House continues to face pressure regarding its response to the Valentine's Day school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

During the Fox News interview, Trump also repeated his support for arming teachers, saying shooters would not go into a school if they knew teachers and staff had guns.

"If we would have had some great teachers that were gun adept ... and if they had concealed permits, you wouldn’t have this problem today," Trump said.

The president also said that Marjory Stoneman Douglas football coach Aaron Feis, who died shielding students from the gunman, would still be alive if he had been armed.

"That coach who was so brave who ran into gunfire to protect the kids, if he had his gun concealed, he would be alive today," Trump said.

—Salvador Hernandez

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Students and parents affected by Florida shooting pan Trump's idea of arming teachers

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior Samuel Zeif during a listening session hosted by President Trump.

After pleading with President Trump to enact stricter gun laws during an emotional, tense White House listening session last week, several Parkland, Florida, students and their parents say they are disappointed by his continued campaign to arm teachers.

In the wake of the Valentine's Day school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in which 17 people died, the president has repeatedly touted the idea to arm teachers across the country with concealed weapons as an added layer of security against mass shootings in schools.

"The teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he knew what happened," Trump said Friday. "These teachers love their students. And these teachers are talented with weaponry and with guns. And they feel safe."

But several student survivors and parents flatly rejected the idea in interviews with BuzzFeed News.

"I felt that Trump was sincere and the White House was respectful when I was there," Melissa Blank, whose son, Jonathan, survived the shooting, told BuzzFeed News. "I honestly believed he was listening and compassionate toward us and did a great job, but as soon as I heard him say we should arm teachers, I was in shock."

Read more here.

—Brianna Sacks

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Authorities are investigating reports that multiple sheriff's deputies waited outside the Parkland, Florida, school with their guns drawn rather than immediately confronting the gunman who killed 17 students and staff members last week.

CNN reported Saturday that Coral Springs police officers were "stunned and upset" that when they arrived at the scene four sheriff's deputies were taking cover behind cars in the parking lot with their guns drawn.

NBC News also reported that deputies remained outside the school, but put the number at three.

Now, the Broward County Sheriff's Office is investigating the actions of its staff.

“Detectives are investigating the claims from [the] Coral Springs Police Department that some deputies did not go into the school when they should have,” according to a statement from the sheriff's office to the Washington Post.

One of the four was Scot Peterson, the armed school resource deputy accused of remaining in the same position for four minutes during the shooting rather than entering the building where the massacre was taking place. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Thursday that Peterson had resigned.

Coral Springs police officers also told CNN that Peterson and the three other deputies did not enter the school building with the police officers, although other deputies who arrived shortly after did.

Read the complete story here.

— Amber Jamieson

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NRA blasts Florida sheriff on Twitter: “You were the one that didn’t protect these children”

No Sheriff Israel you were the one that didn’t PROTECT these children and that is your job. You run the largest ful…

The National Rifle Association on Friday fired back at the Florida sheriff whose county was home to the school shooting that killed 17 people, escalating a war of words that has erupted in the national debate over gun control in the past week.

On Feb. 21, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confronted NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch at a CNN town hall, telling her: "You just told this group of people that you are standing up for them. You are not standing up for them until you say, ‘I want less weapons.’”

His office's official Twitter account later tweeted his remarks.

After new information came out about how the sole armed deputy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School stayed outside the building as the shooting unfolded, rather than engaging the shooter, the NRA quote-tweeted the sheriff: "No Sheriff Israel you were the one that didn't PROTECT these children and that is your job. You run the largest fully accredited sheriff's office in the United States, yet your office failed this community."

The Broward County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did it immediately reply to the NRA on Twitter.

The NRA had also tweeted criticism of Israel and the FBI earlier in the day.

"Maybe people should take a hard look at the number of failures by the FBI and local law enforcement agencies, or does that not fit your agenda?" the NRA tweeted, referring to how the FBI acknowledged it failed to further investigate an important tip weeks before the shooting.

The escalation of words came after a speech by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre at the Conservative Political Action Conference this week, in which he accused gun control advocates of "exploiting tragedy for political gain." As pressure against the NRA mounted on social media, several large companies have announced that they will no longer do business with the NRA.

—Blake Montgomery

Instead of placing the blame on an organization that defends everyone's #2A rights, maybe people should take a hard…

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A woman who was close to the man charged with killing 17 people in a school shooting in Florida warned the FBI a month before the deadly attack about him, telling the agency, "he's going to explode."

"When you look into this, you can make the decision as to whether you want to go further or not," the unidentified woman told the FBI, according to a transcript of the call obtained by The New York Times. "I just want to, you know, get it off my chest in case something does happen and I do believe something's going to happen."

The woman provided chilling details about the disturbing and violent behavior exhibited by Nikolas Cruz before the shooting, including posts on Instagram and his purchase of weapons and ammo.

The call was made on Jan. 5.

Cruz had apparently made threats and hurt himself in the past, but the caller also told the FBI she was specifically worried about Cruz "getting into a school and just shooting the place up."

Read the complete story here.

Salvador Hernandez

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More companies are severing ties with the NRA amid social media pressure from gun control advocates

Pool / Getty Images

A protester holds a sign outside the bond hearing for the accused Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter.

In the wake of the Florida school shooting that left 17 students and staff members dead, people on social media have been pressuring companies to cut ties with the National Rifle Association.

The NRA has staunchly fought any attempts to restrict access to guns or assault rifles like the AR-15, which was used in the Florida school shooting. But gun control advocates, particularly survivors and family members of the Parkland shooting, have confronted the NRA head on in recent days, accusing the organization of defending access to weapons at the expense of public safety.

Using hashtags like #BoycottNRA and #BoycottNRASponsors, people are targeting companies that do business with the powerful gun rights group and those who offer discounts to its members.

Some major companies in the insurance and car rental industries have already cut ties with the NRA.

For a list of the companies that have decided to sever their ties to the organization, go here.

—Salvador Hernandez

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The superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, Robert Runcie, said in a press briefing that news of the armed security officer who did not act during last week's shooting is "outrageous" and "inexcusable."

"I was happy to see Sheriff [Scott] Israel dealt with it swiftly. It's just really outrageous, I'll just leave it at that," said Runcie on Friday, as teachers and school staff returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school for the first time since the shooting.

He said it is not clear why the officer did not enter the school, adding that he "won’t characterize our school law enforcement professionals based on the actions of one individual."

Runcie also went on to say that he does not want to see schoolteachers armed with guns on campus.

"I'm totally against arming teachers," he said. "Asking our teachers to carry guns, to me, that's an easy way out."

Earlier this week, Israel ordered sheriff's deputies who patrol schools to start carrying AR-15s, the same model of gun used to carry out the attack.

Runcie said that this is a short-term measure for added security.

"I’ve asked him to pull some of that back at our elementary schools," Runcie said of Israel.

—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced in a press conference Friday that the state "will require all individuals purchasing firearms to be 21 or older."

"There will be exceptions for active-duty and reserve military and spouses, National Guard members, and law enforcement," he added.

Scott also said that individuals "subject to an injunction for protection against stalking, cyberstalking, dating violence, repeat violence, sexual violence, or domestic violence" will be prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms.

The news comes a little more than a week after 17 people were killed when a shooter opened fire at a Parkland high school.

On Tuesday, the state's House of Representatives voted not to discuss a ban on assault weapons after earlier declaring pornography a health risk, angering people on social media. Survivors of the school shooting and others marched to the state's capitol the next day to rally for new gun regulations.

During Friday's press conference, Scott laid out an action plan to prevent other school shootings and pledged $450 million in security and mental health services to keep students safe at schools.

–Ellie Hall

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Trump called the armed, trained security officer who did not act during the Parkland shooting "a coward"

Asked about the fact that a deputy sheriff tasked with school security did not act during the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the president told reporters the officer was "a coward" who "certainly did a poor job."

Pressed on the fact that the security officer was a highly trained professional, the president said, "What he did — he's trained his whole life — there's an example. But when it came time to get in there and do something, he didn't have the courage or something happened. But he certainly did a poor job. There's no question about that. ... They're trained; they didn't react properly under pressure or they were a coward."

In the aftermath of the massacre, the president has proposed staffing schools with more armed and trained personnel, a suggestion that has faced harsh criticism and blowback, particularly following the revelation that an armed, trained security officer at the school did not enter the building for several minutes after learning of the shooting.

The president spoke to press outside of the White House Friday and said that he would be speaking to CPAC about strengthening background checks and preventing the mentally ill from obtaining guns, and that he also believes that schools "have to have some form of protection" and should not be "gun-free."

"If they're not gun-free — if there are guns inside held by the right people, by highly trained professionals, you're going to see this end," he said.

—Cora Lewis

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Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teachers return to school for the first time since the shooting

HAPPENING NOW: teachers are to returning to their classroom at Stoneman Douglas High for the first time since the s…

Some teachers and staff members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are returning to the campus on Friday, more than a week after the shooting.

"Due to the emotional and difficult recovery process" some staff members were given the option of returning to school on Friday where a "variety of support services will be available," Broward County Public Schools said in a statement.

"Our new normal has yet to be defined, but we want to get back to it," geography teacher Ernest Rospierski told NBC News.

Jim Gard, a math teacher, told CNN that he planned to go back on Friday.

"It's time to go back," Gard said. "I want to get back to the students. I want to get back to my classroom and get things going again and realize we're stronger than this."

All staff members are scheduled to return on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for the students' return on Wednesday when classes will resume at the school.

AP world history teacher Diane Wolk-Rogers urged teachers from other schools to get their students to send handwritten letters of support to the Stoneman Douglas High school students on their first day back.

"I want them to hold the envelopes addressed from around the world to see that they are not alone and there is still kind and caring people in this world," Wolk-Rogers wrote in a Facebook post.

—Tasneem Nashrulla

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Some of the loudest voices opposing President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm “highly trained” teachers to protect students belong to the group that knows best what it’s like to confront someone with a gun: military combat veterans.

In the week since 17 people were killed by a shooter at a Florida high school, combat veterans already had become increasingly vocal in opposition to the availability of assault weapons to civilians, writing op-eds, viral blog posts, and Twitter threads.

But the proposal to train and arm teachers, which was first floated by conservative commentators on Fox News and pushed on Thursday by the president and officials from the National Rifle Association, put many of them over the edge.

“There is a gulf between being taught how to handle a weapon, and learning to fight. Those are two distinct things,” Brandon Friedman, a former Army captain who was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and later served in the Obama administration, told BuzzFeed News. “And learning how to fight, how to stand your ground when an aggressor is trying to kill you, that’s not something that comes naturally to people.”

Read more here.

—Vera Bergengruen

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Thousands of students are expected to walk out of their classrooms in the coming months to support a growing movement for tighter gun controls in the wake of the mass school shooting in Florida. But some will do so at risk of scarring their academic record as administrators in some districts threaten them with suspension.

The threats of disciplinary action have prompted lawyers and even a prestigious university admissions department to lend their support.

The survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, where 17 people were killed, have sparked a national debate over gun control laws, prompting students across the country to demonstrate in favor of stricter regulations.

There are national school walkouts scheduled for March 14 and April 20. A march on the nation's capitol is scheduled for March 24. Thousands of students also participated in walkouts across the country on Feb. 22.

But some schools districts want their students to stay put.

Read more here.

—Blake Montgomery

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The armed Florida school deputy didn't go into the building during the mass shooting

An armed school resource deputy stood outside the building and did "nothing" while a shooter opened fire on students and teachers, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a press conference Thursday.

"He never went in," he said.

Instead, Deputy Scot Peterson stood by the west side of the building where the shooting was taking place for about four minutes during the Feb. 14 shooting that left 17 people dead.

Peterson was placed on administrative leave without pay after investigators reviewed surveillance video that showed the deputy outside the building, Israel said. Peterson, who was in uniform and armed during the shooting, has since resigned and filed for retirement.

"Devastated," Israel said of his reaction after seeing the video footage. "Sick to my stomach. There are no words."

Investigators are also reviewing the actions of deputies who responded to 23 different calls to the home of Nikolas Cruz, the suspected shooter, since 2008. Israel said the calls involved him or his brother.

Two deputies, after reviewing some of the incidents, have been placed on "restricted" duties.

Officials are reviewing whether the deputies "should have done more" during the calls, he said.

Read the entire story here.

Salvador Hernandez

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First National Bank cuts ties with NRA after outcry following Parkland shooting

@kakymc @ATSsecured @NRA Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA. As a result, Fir…

First National Bank has dropped its National Rifle Association–branded credit card, ending its relationship with the powerful gun rights group after an outcry on social media prompted by the Florida school shooting.

The bank made the announcement Thursday on Twitter, responding to people on social media who asked the bank to end its business with the NRA.

"Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA," the company wrote. "As a result, First National Bank of Omaha will not renew its contract with the National Rifle Association to issue the NRA Visa Card."

A spokesperson for the bank declined to offer details about their relationship with the NRA, saying the bank was not commenting beyond the statement.

The NRA had promoted the credit card on its website and blog, encouraging people to apply for the card to "show support for The Second Amendment, public education and awareness about the facts of gun ownership, and training and safety programs for individuals, families, and members of law enforcement and the military."

The move comes after an outcry on social media targeting companies that promote or have a relationship with the gun rights group as political discourse has tilted toward gun control legislation after the mass shooting at the Florida high school.

The NRA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Salvador Hernandez

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A grieving father whose 14-year-old daughter was killed in the shooting grilled Sen. Marco Rubio about gun control and it was intense

Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, slammed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for taking a weak stance on gun control in the wake of the tragedy.

"Your comments this week and those of our president have been pathetically weak," Guttenberg said during a town hall hosted by CNN Wednesday. "Look at me and tell me: Guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school ... And look at me and tell me you accept it and you will work with us to do something about guns."

Taken aback, Rubio said he only meant school shootings "cannot be solved by gun laws alone." But Guttenberg pressed him again to state that guns are responsible for "the hunting of our kids," and to take a position on a new assault weapons ban, prompting a standing ovation from the crowd.

Listing the gun laws he would support, including banning bump stocks and raising the age limit for purchasing an AR-15–style rifle, Rubio then argued that a new assault weapons ban would not be feasible or effective at preventing gun violence.

Guttenberg wasn't having it. "Sen. Rubio, my daughter, running down the hallway at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, was shot in the back with an assault weapon, the weapon of choice," he retorted. "It is too easy to get. It is a weapon of war. The fact that you can't stand with everybody in this building and say that, I'm sorry."

Rubio then delved into the complications of an outright assault weapons ban as the crowd booed him down. "We should make sure that dangerous criminals, people who are deranged, cannot buy any gun of any kind. That's what I believe a better answer will be," he concluded.

Brianna Sacks

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Florida superintendent pushes back against Trump's suggestion that teachers could be armed

"We don't need to put guns in the hands of teachers," Broward County superintendent tells crowd of students+teacher…

The superintendent whose district includes the Florida high school that was attacked last week pushed back against the idea of arming school teachers, a plan that just minutes earlier on Wednesday seemed to be gaining support from President Trump.

"If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack very quickly," Trump said during a White House meeting with student survivors and relatives of the victims of mass shootings.

But at a town hall meeting hosted by CNN, Broward County Public School Superintendent Robert Runcie pushed back against the proposal.

"Some of the dialogue that I heard recently is about arming teachers," Runcie said. "We don't need to put guns in the hands of teachers."

The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Salvador Hernandez

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Family members of Florida school shooting victims beg Trump to take action

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Andrew Pollack, father of slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Meadow Jade Pollack, joined by his sons, speaks during a listening session with President Donald Trump.

Students who survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, and relatives of students who didn't, pleaded President Trump to take action to prevent another school shooting during a "listening session" at the White House Wednesday.

"How many schools, how many children have to get shot?" Andrew Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, was one of 17 people killed in the Feb. 14 shooting. "It stops here with this administration and me."

The emotional scene was broadcast live on national television, as well as scenes of the Florida students who tearfully asked Trump to address the frequency of school shootings.

Read the complete story here.

Salvador Hernandez

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Florida sheriff orders officers at school campuses to be armed with AR-15 rifles

Sheriff's deputies who patrol schools in the Florida county where 17 people were killed last week in a campus shooting were ordered Wednesday to start carrying AR-15s, the same model of gun used to carry out the attack.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference that the order applies to deputies who are "trained and qualified," and that school district officials supported the decision. He added that "most" officers will be armed with AR-15s.

"Our deputies who do have the ARs will have single-shot rifles," Israel said. "One trigger pull, one shot. They’re not fully automatic."

Read more here.

—Jim Dalrymple II

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Outside the White House, hundreds of students are calling for gun restrictions

High school students protesting outside the White House. President Trump meets with students and teachers who have…

Hundreds of people — primarily high school students and their supporters — have marched from the Capitol building to the White House on Wednesday to push for stronger gun control. Students could be seen streaming out of Washington DC's Union Station on their way to the Capitol before making their way to the White House.

Students begin marching from Capitol Hill to the White House, demanding lawmakers to act in the face of last week’s…

MD high school students held impromptu rally pushing for gun control measures on East Front of Capitol -group headi…

Hundreds of students from DC-area Maryland schools walked out this morning to protest for gun control at the Capito…

Students marched to the White House, chanting “Hey hey! Ho ho! The NRA has got to go!”

—Talal Ansari

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Florida lawmakers, in the presence of student-protesters, including those from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, voted against taking up a measure that would prevent the sale and possession of "assault" weapons.

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, Rep. Kionne McGhee of Miami had used an unusual procedural move to try to pull the bill out of committee so it could be heard on the House floor, the Sun Sentinel reported. However, the final vote was 36–71 against doing so, according to the Associated Press.

Students had arrived earlier in the day in an attempt to lobby lawmakers to vote for the measure and take up more gun control legislation.

Authorities say the alleged Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15 rifle, which would be covered under the bill pushed by McGhee.

—Talal Ansari

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Asked about Trump backing an assault weapons ban, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says, "We haven't closed the door on any front."

The White House says "we haven't closed the door on any front" when asked if Trump would support an assault weapons…

At Tuesday's White House press briefing — the first since the Parkland shooting last week — White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders opened the door to Trump possibly backing an assault weapons ban.

"I don't have any specific announcements, but we haven't closed the door on any front," Sanders said in a response to a question from a reporter.

"That's what the next several days and weeks will be, to have conversations and see what this process looks like. And to see what areas we can help make changes to and in what places we can can do better," Sanders added, mentioning that the president is interested in making background checks more "efficient."

Later in the press conference, Sanders addressed the sale of bump stocks, an aftermarket device that makes a semi-automatic gun operate like an automatic.

"I can tell you that the president supports not having the use of bump stocks and that we expect further action on that in the coming days," Sanders said. "He ordered the department of justice and the ATF to review the regulation of bump stocks. My understanding is that review has been completed and movement will take place on that shortly."

Just moments later, the president addressed bump stocks as well.

"I signed a memorandum directing the attorney general to propose regulations to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns," President Trump said. "I expect that these critical regulations will be finalized, Jeff, very soon," he said, referring to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. —Talal Ansari

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High school students across Florida are staging walkouts to protest gun violence

WBHS supporting Stoneman Douglas. We are with you 💕💕💕 #wewantchange

On Tuesday, West Boca Raton High School students staged a walkout to demand gun reform.

The estimated 1,000 students walked 10 miles to protest outside Stoneman Douglas High School.

West Boca Raton isn't the only Florida high school protesting. Several other high schools across the state have been holding walkouts and calling for change, including ones in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

The Tuesday walkouts are just the beginning of several large-scale student protests. National school walkouts are being held on March 14 and April 20.

And, on March 24, students and supporters will march on Washington, DC, to demand gun control in the March For Our Lives. This protest is being planned by student organizers from Stoneman Douglas.

Julia Reinstein

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A newly released report shows more missed warning signs from Cruz in 2016, including a call to social services

Documents released Monday afternoon from the Florida Department of Children and Families describe an investigation into Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz's behavior in 2016, including notes from an investigator that he "plans to go out and buy a gun" for an unknown reason.

The investigator, who visited Cruz's family to look into allegations of neglect, noted that Cruz had depression, ADHD, and autism, and that he had taken prescribed medication for ADHD in the past.

The report described him as a "vulnerable adult due to mental illness."

The investigation followed a call in September 2016 to the agency over an incident in which Cruz was seen on Snapchat "cutting both of his arms." Visiting Cruz and his family at home, the investigator noted the new cuts and stated that Cruz said "he plans to go out and buy a gun" for an unknown reason.

A year prior, Cruz had hate signs written on his backpack, the investigator also noted, including a Nazi symbol, according to his mother.

Following a six-week investigation including interviews with Cruz's mother and his counselors, DCF closed the case, concluding there was no evidence of mistreatment and that Cruz was not a threat to himself or others.

Cruz's mother described his behavior at the time as "surrounding a breakup with a girl who was cheating” on him. She also expressed concerns over his depression and desire to buy a gun.

—Cora Lewis

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Students are holding a demonstration at the White House

Dozens gathered outside the White House on Monday to protest gun violence and call for stricter gun laws following the Florida school shooting last week that killed 17 people.

Students chant “shame on you” at the White House during a protest calling for tougher gun control laws following th…

Dozens of students hold a "lie in" outside the White House to call for tougher gun laws after the Florida shooting

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In an emotional message, Stoneman Douglas High School's principal tells students that he will hug them "as many times as you need" to recover from the tragic mass shooting

View this video on YouTube

In an emotional, uplifting video released this weekend, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Principal Ty Thompson told students that love would help get them through the tragedy that has engulfed the community since the Valentine's Day shooting that left 17 people dead.

In his first remarks since a gunman opened fire in his school's hallways last week, Thompson thanked his students and staff for their quick actions during the crisis, as well as the first responders for their "force of power" and rapid response.

Tearing up, Thompson promised his community that "we’re going to take the love that we got lost on Wednesday, and we’re going to spread that over the next days, weeks, months, and maybe even years.”

He acknowledged the healing process will be long and difficult, and said that he would be there for students throughout the coming weeks and months.

"I promise you, I will hug each and every one of you as many times as you need and I will hold you as long as you need me to — for all 3,300 of you and your families — and we will get through this together,” Thompson said, hands clasped and choking back tears.

"We will persevere in these trying times," he said. "Be positive, be passionate, be proud to be an Eagle."

Brianna Sacks

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Celebrities voice support for shooting survivors' "March for Our Lives"

Celebrities are pledging their support after a group of shooting survivors announced that they'll be leading a nationwide protest against gun violence on March 24.

Students and families will "take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today," they wrote on their newly launched website, asking people across the nation to march in their own cities as well.

Students announced the march on CNN, ABC, and Fox News on Sunday morning. "We’re going to be marching together as students, begging for our lives," said Cameron Kasky, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, on ABC's This Week.

Celebrities including Justin Bieber, Alyssa Milano, and RuPaul expressed their support for the march on Twitter.

Cameron good talking to you last night. All of your bravery is amazing. I stand with you guys. #march24…

Join me on March 24 as we march for our lives. #MarchForOurLives

On March 24th, we march. Get off ur ass and join us. #GunReformNow #MarchForOurLives

On March 24, students are leading marches in DC & across the country to demand that lawmakers do their jobs and tak…

March 24 -Students are leading march on Washington and across the country to demand lawmakers do their jobs and tak…

Nidhi Prakash

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Shooting survivors take to TV to call for gun control and announce March 24 "March for Our Lives"

On Sunday, five students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School appeared on morning shows on CNN, ABC, and Fox News to demand action from adults. They announced that they will lead a nationwide March for Our Lives on March 24 to call for action on gun control, and for politicians to be held accountable for donations they receive from the National Rifle Association.

“People are saying that it’s not time to talk about gun control, and we can respect that. Here’s a time: March 24th in every single city," said Cameron Kasky, a junior at the high school, on ABC's This Week, flanked by four fellow students. "We’re going to be marching together as students, begging for our lives."

Read more here.

Nidhi Prakash

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Trump uses Florida's school shooting to undermine the Russia probe

Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable…

President Donald Trump on Saturday night appeared to blame the Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead this week on the FBI's Russia investigation.

"Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter," Trump tweeted just after 11 p.m. ET Saturday night. "This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion."

The president was referring to the FBI's admission earlier this week that it dropped the ball on a tip that the bureau received in January about the suspected gunman in Wednesday's mass shooting, Nikolas Cruz.

FBI officials have said that agents did not follow protocol and that the tip was never referred to the FBI's Miami field office, which could have pointed the bureau toward Cruz prior to the Valentine's Day shooting.

In his tweet Saturday night, however, the president seemed to suggest that the lapse in procedure was somehow a result of the FBI being distracted by the probe into Russia's influence on the 2016 election.

Of course, the FBI employs about 35,000 people across 56 field offices around the country. And FBI officials said the issue in the case of the Florida school shooting was the result of a failure to refer the tip to the bureau's Miami office, rather than a lack of personnel or manpower.

Read more here.

—Salvador Hernandez

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Reports: Social service agency investigated Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz, and knew he wanted to buy a gun, but ultimately found his "risk is low"

MediaPunch via AP

Memorial site that honors victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The Florida Department of Children and Families looked into Nikolas Cruz's home, learned he had behavioral struggles and wanted to buy a gun, but found that the "final level of risk is low," according to multiple news reports Saturday.

The state DCF investigation — conducted more than a year before Cruz allegedly opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Wednesday, killing 17 people — also found several disturbing signs about the teen's behavior, including that he had placed a Nazi symbol on his backpack and cut his arms in a post on Snapchat.

But the investigation was closed in November 2016. Months later, in February 2017, Cruz bought an AR-15 rifle that he ultimately used in the mass shooting Wednesday afternoon, according to law enforcement officials.

The reports from the Florida DCF were obtained by the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Sun-Sentinel Saturday.

In a statement Saturday, Florida DCF noted that it has asked a court for permission to release records related to its investigation into Cruz, and that a hearing is set for Monday a judge to review the petition.

"While the APS report related to this individual remains confidential pending a court order for release, we have reviewed the circumstances surrounding the 2016 case," DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said in a statement. "Mental health services and supports were in place when this investigation closed. We look forward to Monday’s hearing, where we will ask that these records are released so the public can have access to this important information."

The agency also stated that the agency had no records of child welfare reports involving Cruz.

According to news reports Saturday, the state agency began looking into Cruz in September 2016, days after he had turned 18 years old. The agency had noted in its records that it began the inquiry because Cruz was "a vulnerable adult due to mental illness." Investigators found that Cruz appeared to be depressed and made a post on Snapchat where he was seen cutting himself.

The DCF records also reportedly noted that Cruz's mother told them he was upset because of a recent breakup, and that she and the girl's mother had "told the kids they had to end the relationship because it was unhealthy for everyone."

BuzzFeed News reported earlier Saturday that Cruz had begun to send classmates threatening messages after an ex-girlfriend began dating someone else.

Cruz's mother told officials he did not have a gun at the time, and officials determined he was low risk because he "resides with his mother, attends school and receives counseling," according to reports.

Cruz claimed that he did not know what the Nazi symbol or the racial epithet on his backpack meant.

Salvador Hernandez and Grace Wyler

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President Trump, who has spoken out against gun control, blames Democrats for lack of gun control legislation

Just like they don’t want to solve the DACA problem, why didn’t the Democrats pass gun control legislation when the…

President Donald Trump, who has often touted his opposition to gun control and the NRA's quick endorsement of his presidential campaign, blamed Democrats on Saturday for not passing gun control legislation during the Obama administration.

"Why didn't the Democrats pass gun control legislation when they had both the House & Senate during the Obama Administration," Trump tweeted Saturday. "Because they didn't want to, and now they just talk!"

The president's comments came just minutes after students and survivors of Wednesday Florida school shooting protested outside a federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, with many of them calling out Trump and the NRA for their opposition to gun control.

"If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association," Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High said at the demonstration. "But, hey, you wanna know something? It doesn't matter, because I already know: $30 million."

A day after the shooting, Trump seemed to suggest that students and those who knew the gunman should have reported his actions. Many students have said they did. Police were also called to his home 36 times and on Friday, the FBI admitted it failed to follow up on a tip.

Trump's tweet also came after he spoke with local officials, including Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Principal Ty Thompson.

"The President commended the work of State and local officials following the tragedy, as well as the local law enforcement and first responders who helped save many lives," according to a readout of the president's calls. "President Trump reiterated to each official that the Nation stands with Parkland and that its residents are not alone."

—Salvador Hernandez

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A student who survived this week's deadly Florida school shooting gave an impassioned speech at a gun control protest in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, calling out those opposed to firearm regulations.

Wiping tears from her face amid crowd chants of "Enough is enough," Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, also expressly criticized President Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association.

Referencing a tweet from the president in which he questioned the suspected shooter's mental health and called on people to report suspicious behavior to authorities, Gonzalez said, "We did. Time and time again — since he was in middle school. It was no surprise to anyone who knew him to hear that he was a shooter."

"If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association," she said to huge cheers. "But, hey, you wanna know something? It doesn't matter, because I already know: $30 million."

Watch the speech here. —Azeen Ghorayshi

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In the aftermath of the United States’ latest mass shooting, political reactions diverged along well-trodden lines. For some, it was all about gun control. But for others, including President Donald Trump, the issue was the alleged shooter’s mental health.

The reality, according to experts who study the risk of gun violence, is more complex than the talking points on the right and left.

Yes, people with serious mental illness — including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression — are on average two or three times more likely to be violent than the average person. But it’s unclear how much of this is due to other problems, like substance abuse, that often to go hand in hand with mental illness. And overall, mental illness is thought to cause only about 4% of violent crime in the US.

So expecting better mental health treatment to solve the US’s problems with gun violence is a forlorn hope. “It’s promising something that we can’t deliver,” Marcia Valenstein, a mental health services researcher at the University of Michigan, told BuzzFeed News.

At the same time, focusing on mental illness each time a mass shooting occurs hardens public attitudes against some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“To have people say that this person was deranged, or had a look in his eyes, doesn’t do anything other than create stigma,” Richard Van Dorn, a mental health services researcher at RTI International in Research Triangle, North Carolina, told BuzzFeed News.

Meanwhile, there are no easy answers to stopping mass shootings by trying to fix mental health.

Read more here. —Peter Aldhous

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PARKLAND, Florida — Three students who knew the suspected high school shooter told BuzzFeed News they reported him to school administrators for erratic behavior and threatening them after an ex-girlfriend broke up with him and began seeing another teenager.

Nikolas Cruz, who has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, was expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2017 for what the local sheriff called “disciplinary reasons.” Some reports said he was kicked out for carrying a knife to school. Other reports said he was expelled after he got into a fight with the new boyfriend of an ex.

The students who spoke to BuzzFeed News — Dana Craig, 16; her boyfriend, Matthew Rosario, 16; and Enea Sabadini, 17 — said that such a fight happened, and that it was the culmination of a jealous and angry period for Cruz because Enea began dating Cruz’s ex-girlfriend. Three other friends who asked BuzzFeed News not to use their names, for privacy reasons, confirmed their accounts.

"Im going to watch ypu bleed," read an Instagram message sent under Cruz's name to Enea in 2017, when students said Cruz was no longer at the school. "iam going to shoot you dead." Another message said Enea "stole my ex."

Read more here. —Remy Smidt

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Suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz spewed hateful messages about Jews, immigrants, black people, and gay people in a private Instagram group chat, according to a CNN report.

In a group named "Murica 🇺🇸 🦅 great," Cruz shared disturbing messages as well as videos and pictures of weapons. One video showed Cruz firing a rifle out of a window.

"I think I am going to kill people," he reportedly wrote.

CNN said it was added to the private group by one of the members and was able to review several messages shared by participants, who all appeared to be under the age of 18.

In Cruz's first message to the group, he bragged about writing a letter to President Trump and receiving a response, the report said. The White House did not immediately respond to a BuzzFeed News request for comment on the letter.

In the chat, Cruz reportedly wrote that he hated "Jews, ni**ers, immigrants." In multiple messages, he wrote that he wanted to kill Mexicans and that he wanted to put black people in chains and cut their necks.

Cruz at one point also referred to his birth mother, saying, "My real mom was a Jew. I am glad I never met her."

When another member said he hated gay people, Cruz responded with, "Shoot them in the back of the head."

Members of the group also spoke often about weapons, including one member who suggested to Cruz that he should buy an accessory for his AR-15 rifle that would allow the gun to rapidly fire like an automatic weapon.

After getting a paycheck, Cruz also told the group at one point that he was using the money to purchase body armor. He then posted a receipt for the purchase.

The 19-year-old then asked the group if it was legal for him to wear the body armor to school. Asked why he wanted to know, he replied, "School shooters."

Salvador Hernandez

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Dozens gather outside NRA headquarters in Virginia to demand an end to school shootings

Dozens of people attended a candlelight vigil for the Florida school shooting victims Friday night outside the National Rifle Association headquarters, demanding political action from government leaders and an end to school shootings.

Attendees at the Fairfax, Virginia, vigil held candles and signs condemning the firearm advocacy organization. The vigil was a response to Wednesday's shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

“The NRA has blood on it’s hands. They kill our children.” -Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) of Va. joins a protest/vigil o…

One mother who attended the vigil told the crowd about the fear of sending her daughter to school.

"Every day when I put her on that bus to school I think about the school shootings that are happening in this country," the woman continued. "And I think to myself, should I really have to feel lucky when she gets back off that bus, day after day after day? Is that what America has become?"

Other attendees read the names of the victims of the Florida shooting.

With hundreds of Northern Virginians at the NRA headquarters to mourn those lost at #Parkland and to demand common…

Gerry Connolly, a Democratic congressman from Virginia, helped publicize the vigil and attended. After, he tweeted that the goal was to push for "common sense gun safety measures to protect our children from massacre and violence."

—Jim Dalrymple II

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President Donald Trump met Friday with injured victims of the Florida school shooting, and praised first responders and hospital staff for their work.

Standing beside a trauma surgeon and the first lady at Broward Health North hospital, Trump said the work of emergency responders was “really incredible.”

“The speed that they got the victims over to the hospital was like record time,” he said.

The president also said that he "did indeed" meet with victims, adding: "It’s sad something like that could happen."

The president did not respond to a shouted question from a reporter about whether gun laws need to be changed in response to the deadly shooting in which at least 17 people were killed at the school on Wednesday. In his public remarks regarding the tragedy, Trump has focused instead on ensuring those with mental illness are prevented from purchasing guns.

Later, Trump met with Broward County Sheriff’s officials and local FBI officers to also thank them for their response to the shooting. Sheriff Scott Israel thanked Trump for spending a half hour with the wounded son of one law enforcement officer.

The president said his visit had originally been scheduled for Sunday or Monday, but that he had requested for it to be earlier.

He and the first lady headed to his Mar-a-Lago estate after the tour.

—Blake Montgomery

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Officials in Broward County, Florida, want to tear down the building where Nikolas Cruz allegedly began a deadly rampage Wednesday that left at least 17 people dead.

Robert Runcie, superintendent of the Broward County School District, told NPR on Friday that he is "looking for resources to reconstruct the building" at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

"We cannot have our students going back into the building where the incident occurred," Runcie said. "We had over 900 students that were taking classes in that particular facility, so we're trying to secure a special appropriation with the board of the leadership in our legislature to be able to get funding to build another facility on the campus."

Runcie also told ABC 10 that students, parents, and other community members support replacing the building, though no official decision has been made and demolition is not a "done deal."

Broward Commish & Stoneman Douglas HS dad @Michaeludine calls for the demolition of the freshman building -turned -…

Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine also said Friday that he supports tearing down the building and wants the state to fund a replacement.

"I can tell you that the children are not going to go back into that building," he said. "No way — no one is sending their children back."

—Jim Dalrymple II

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An attorney for Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz said Friday that he may plead guilty in order to avoid a possible death penalty and instead spend life in prison.

Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein did not contest Cruz's guilt Friday, telling the Miami Herald, "He committed this crime. Everybody saw it. Everybody knows it. He's admitted it."

"The crime is horrific and beyond words," Finkelstein, who is part of the team representing Cruz, added. "This is going to come down to one issue — does he live, or does he die?"

As a result, Finkelstein planned to meet Friday with prosecutors and offer a guilty plea in exchange for life in prison, the Sun Sentinel reported.

"We believe it’s in nobody’s best interest to go through a circus of a trial," Finkelstein said.

It was not immediately clear if Finkelstein had already made his offer Friday evening. He could not immediately be reached by BuzzFeed News.

Cruz was arrested on 17 counts of premeditated murder after authorities say he opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday. At least 17 people died, while others remain critically injured.

Prosecutors have not said if they plan to seek the death penalty in the case. Broward State Attorney’s spokesperson Constance Simmons told the Herald Friday that it was "way too early in the investigation" to discuss the sentence.

However, Finkelstein reiterated that Cruz was open to a deal.

"We’re willing to plead guilty and let the families and community begin to heal," he said. "Nobody sees any benefit from a trial."

—Jim Dalrymple II

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The first two funerals for victims of the school shooting in Florida took place Friday, drawing hundreds of mourners and emotional words from grief-stricken family members.

The funeral of Meadow Pollack, 18, took place Friday afternoon at Temple K’ol Tikvah in Parkland, Florida. Her father, Andrew Pollack, spoke at the gathering, referring to suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz as "this piece of shit," the Sun Sentinel reported.

"You killed my kid," Andrew Pollack reportedly said. "'My kid is dead' goes through my head all day and all night. I keep hearing it over and over."

Pollack's funeral was attended by a large crowd of people, ABC 10 reported, filling the parking lot and spilling out into the surrounding area.

About 400 people attended the funeral of Alyssa Alhadeff, 14, in North Lauderdale on Friday, the Sun Sentinel reported. People remembered the teen as a skilled soccer player and creative writer.

Alhadeff's mother, Lori Alhadeff — who on Thursday demanded that President Trump work to stop school shootings — spoke at her daughter's funeral Friday, the Miami Herald reported.

"I wish I could’ve taken those bullets for you, Alyssa,” Alhadeff said. “I would have protected you."

—Jim Dalrymple II