Students attending the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are describing hearing multiple shots during a shooting at their South Florida high school Wednesday. (Feb. 14)

The suspected gunman believed to have opened fire in Wednesday’s fatal attack at a Florida high school is a former student who at least one teacher says had been flagged as a potential threat, especially while carrying a backpack on school grounds.

The former student, whose name has not yet been officially released, had attracted so much concern that school administrators banned him from campus, said Jim Gard, a math teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed the gunman was a student at the school at one time, but was not at the time of the shooting.

Israel said the shooter was outside and inside the school at points during the attack, and taken into custody “without incident” about an hour after he left the school. 

Gard said the former student had been aggressive toward other students.

“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” Gard told the Miami Herald. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”

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Gard, who taught the student, said he believes the school administration sent out an email warning teachers that the student had made threats against others in the past, the Herald reported.

Another student interviewed on the scene by local television station Channel 7 said the student had guns at home.

Gard described chaos at the scene of the shooting Wednesday. “Six kids ran back into my room, and I locked the door, turned out the lights and had the kids go to the back of the room,” Gard said.

“Within a minute a code red was announced,” Gard added, referring to the school code for a lockdown.

“I told the kids to hang in there, it may still be a drill.”


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Caesar Figueroa said he was one of the first parents to arrive at the school, seeking his 16-year-old daughter after hearing reports of gunfire.

Students were running out into the streets as SWAT team members swarmed in. “It was crazy and my daughter wasn’t answering her phone,” he said.

According to Figueroa, she texted him that she was hidden in a school closet with friends after she heard gunshots.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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