Grief and anger as Florida prepares to bury victims of school massacre

PARKLAND, Fla. (Reuters) - As families prepared on Friday to bury victims of another U.S. mass shooting, grief mixed with anger amid signs of possible lapses in school security and indications that law enforcement may have missed clues about the suspected gunman's plans.

One distraught mother who said she had just spent two hours making funeral preparations for her 14-year-old child expressed disbelief that a gunman could just stroll into school and open fire, and she appealed to President Donald Trump to take action.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, identified as a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who had been expelled for disciplinary problems, walked into the school on Wednesday and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing 17 students and facility members and injuring 15 others, police said.

The shooting has raised questions among anguished parents about the adequacy of school security measures and renewed a national debate on Capitol Hill and elsewhere about the epidemic of gun violence in American schools.

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Reaction to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida
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Reaction to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida

**Click through the following slides to see how lawmakers and well-known figures responded to the shooting on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.**

(John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavi… https://t.co/3mSYrtTng6
We are grieving with Parkland. But we are not powerless. Caring for our kids is our first job. And until we can hon… https://t.co/LWGSkzRapH
No words, no actions, no laws are enough until we end this epidemic of school shootings in our country. My heart is… https://t.co/tjXGNhDN4e
My heart is broken again — this time for the victims of the Parkland school shooting, and the families whose childr… https://t.co/cZcyDaUIUV
My heart is heavy over the school shooting in Florida. Keeping all affected in my thoughts & prayers.
April 16, 2007, was the worst day of my life—when 32 people were shot and killed at Virginia Tech. Nearly 11 years… https://t.co/c3cBLo8HKF
Imagine your child never coming home from school. Then imagine having to tell that story to every new person you me… https://t.co/hbl4tRBsig
Don't tell me tomorrow isn't the appropriate time to debate gun violence. If you're a political leader doing nothin… https://t.co/iLM5dP8YW7
I am at a loss for what more to say. I grieve with the families in Parkland today. I grieve with the families acros… https://t.co/PaYjuPSkw8
Heard the word “tragedy” 100 times already about the school shooting - not really, by the classical definition: tra… https://t.co/asfO6NFmkz
Praying for the innocent lives lost, their families and the Parkland, Florida community in the wake of today’s unspeakable tragedy.
Broward school shooting--There will be prayers from Blabbermouth Don, Pence the Grinch, and their rightwing cohorts… https://t.co/rfySOFaB6X
Another senseless tragedy at an American school. My heart is with the victims and their families. When will we wake… https://t.co/QFLOKCDwZU
Praying for everyone at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Just spoke with Broward Undersheriff to ensure they h… https://t.co/lXBLWVHVCS
Sending my love to #parkland. #guncontrol #policyandchange https://t.co/lGnYTytBfm
Just spoke with @POTUS about shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. My thoughts and prayers are with the… https://t.co/Lum03FQg79
The accounts from today's school shooting in Parkland, Florida strike fear into all Americans. Is it safe to send o… https://t.co/6gbokHm4j2
We owe it to our children and our teachers to keep them safe while at school. Prayers won't do this: action will. C… https://t.co/0KGNfJSour
Sen. Chris Murphy addresses Florida school shooting on Senate floor: "Let me just note once again for my colleagues… https://t.co/sZEKbUPvqY
Heartbroken over the news of another school shooting. This is the 18th in 45 days of 2018. Students & teachers shou… https://t.co/MLgvZc3eFq
Yeah, it’s pretty rough to talk about shootings right after they happen. I know if someone was burning down house… https://t.co/eFbx9wtHlJ
I’m horrified by the reports coming from Parkland, Florida. Please take a moment to pray for the victims and first… https://t.co/t0TqSWZZVM
Relieved that the shooter is in custody. Praying for the victims and their families during this harrowing experien… https://t.co/I4BQ1bGscQ
Please join me in praying for the students, faculty, and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as… https://t.co/dlvULnKn6E
It’s so easy these days to just scroll by a story like this. But this is developing and we should pay attention. Th… https://t.co/RgxgC5ZEuj
Devastating news from Florida. As further details emerge, join me in praying for everyone at Marjory Stoneman Dougl… https://t.co/5jrawYUYSq
My heart deeply hurts for the children and their families in South Florida that are going through a living hell. T… https://t.co/AipSSV7rM0
Another school shooting. Sad. Prayers to the families #ParklandShooting
Just reading about the shooting at the High School in Parkland, Florida. Thoughts & prayers with all those affecte… https://t.co/OWtOUJgBhx
As we send our thoughts & prayers to the people of Parkland, Florida how about we, the people & govt of America, ac… https://t.co/rR8HFlnZeg
My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or an… https://t.co/RFJxgM1jhm
We have to do more to protect our children our teachers our families our people, no Matter what ! 🙏🇺🇸
We’ve been praying. It’s time to work. It’s time to change. Faith + works. Prayer + action. https://t.co/J5e2Y0DL8i
Prayers to everyone in Parkland Florida 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
If people can blame drug dealers for the drug problem then we can blame the @NRA for the mass shooting problem.
Today is the day that inevitably comes when your prayers don't do anything to prevent it, but your vote might. https://t.co/1HBkioPDcA
These lawmakers took the most money $$ from the @NRA https://t.co/TzJtZ5lgMq
Praying for all impacted by the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward, especially th… https://t.co/Qe8PhyTev4
My heart goes out to the victims who were killed or injured, and their families, in the school shooting in Florida.
If people can blame drug dealers for the drug problem then we can blame the @NRA for the mass shooting problem.
Our prayers go out to the families and friends of victims in Florida.
My heart goes out to all those affected by the shooting in Florida. I am praying for these precious children and th… https://t.co/3oPyygSjaq
My heart breaks again today at news of the school shooting in Florida. It's long past time for action to stop the g… https://t.co/w0KCn7RYu7
Lots of people lamenting "nothing will change" today. That's what people said before the Montgomery boycott. Th… https://t.co/uflj5KzeBL
As we rise this morning let us pray for the victims and families of this horrific tragedy that has fallen on our co… https://t.co/GC2rrpU3Bs
Our community has suffered devastating tragedy. We lost sons, daughters, teachers, coaches, friends, neighbors, bro… https://t.co/gbaIaUQlKw
Prayers without accordant action are silent lies told to oneself, heard by no God, amounting to nothing. Action is… https://t.co/6nscffCxJ4
Like thousands in South Florida, we sent the boys to school in Broward County this morning... there are no words to… https://t.co/wsVhErOoHb
Just heard the tragic news about Florida. My heart breaks for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.… https://t.co/0fHsqfWGky
Our hearts are shattered by the terrible news about Parkland… love you so so much Florida ❤️
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"How do we allow a gunman to come into our children’s school? How did they get through security? What security is there?" Lori Alhadeff shouted into the camera in an emotionally raw appearance on CNN.

"The gunman, the crazy person, just walks right into the school, knocks down the window to my child’s door and starts shooting, shooting her ...," cried Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was among the dead.

Cruz, charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, made a brief initial court appearance on Thursday, in which he was ordered held without bond.

"He's a broken human being," his lawyer, public defender Melissa McNeill, told reporters. "He's sad, he's mournful, he's remorseful."

"PROFESSIONAL SCHOOL SHOOTER"

Cruz may have foreshadowed the attack in a comment on YouTube, investigated by the FBI. The Federal Bureau of Investigation disclosed it received a tip in September about the message that read: "I'm going to be a professional school shooter," by a user named Nikolas Cruz.

However, FBI agents had no information pointing to the "time, location or true identity" of the person behind the message, Robert Lasky, special agent in charge of the FBI's Jacksonville office, told reporters.

YouTube ultimately removed the material in question, and the FBI's inquiry was dropped until the name Nikolas Cruz surfaced again in connection with Wednesday's massacre.

Authorities say Cruz, identified as a former student at Stoneman Douglas High who had been expelled for disciplinary problems, walked into the school shortly before dismissal time, pulled a fire alarm and opened fire as students and teachers streamed out of classrooms into the halls.

The sheriff said Cruz arrived at the school by way of the Uber ride-sharing service and left the scene on foot, mixing in "with a group that were running away, fearing for their lives."

He walked into a Walmart, bought a beverage at a Subway outlet inside the store, then visited a McDonald's before he was spotted and detained by a police officer in the adjacent town of Coconut Creek, Israel said.

Former classmates have described Cruz as a social outcast with a reputation as a trouble-maker, as well as someone who was "crazy about guns." The sheriff has said some of the online and social media activity Cruz engaged in was "very, very disturbing."

Wednesday's shooting ranks as the greatest loss of life from school gun violence after the 2012 shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 20 first-graders and six adult educators dead.

"It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference," Trump said at the White House in a speech that emphasized school safety and mental health while avoiding any mention of gun policy. "We must actually make that difference."

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives criticized the Republican leadership on Wednesday for refusing to take up legislation on tightening background checks for prospective gun buyers.

Some gun control proponents and legal experts said Wednesday's shooting might have been averted if Florida were among the handful of U.S. states with laws allowing police and family members to obtain restraining orders barring people suspected of being a threat from possessing guns.

Cruz had recently moved in with another family after his mother's November death, said Jim Lewis, a lawyer representing the family, bringing his AR-15 along with other belongings.

The family believed Cruz was depressed, but attributed that to his mother's death, not mental illness, Lewis said.

For graphic on Florida school shooting, click: http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/FLORIDA-SHOOTING/010060XH1SW/shooting.jpg

(Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee)

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