A total of 17 people have been killed in the horrific Florida high school shooting, local police confirmed.

Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed the news while briefing media today.

“I’m saddened to say that 17 people lost their lives,” he said.

Twelve people were killed inside the building, two just outside, and one on a nearby street. Two victims died in hospital.

“It’s catastrophic. There really are no words,” Israel had said earlier.

Police have also confirmed the identity of the gunman as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He is now in custody.

“He was taken into custody, I believe, about an hour after he left Stoneman Douglas, after he committed this horrific, homicidal, detestable act,” said Israel.

Cruz was expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons, police said. He had countless magazines and an AR-15 rifle with him.

Teachers initially believed the alarm was a fire drill, before being told it was a “Code Red”. Students hid in closets and behind desks before being evacuated by law enforcement.

The FBI has set up a tipline for anyone with information about the shooting to come forward.

An earlier version of this article spelled the suspect’s name as Nikolaus Cruz, as per the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities have now corrected the spelling.

 

Image: AP / Joel Auerbach