PARKLAND, Fla. • The teenager accused of using a semi-automatic rifle to kill 17 people at a Florida high school confessed to carrying out one of the nation's deadliest school shootings and concealing extra ammunition in his backpack, according to a sheriff's department report released Thursday.
The report from the Broward County Sheriff's Office said Nikolas Cruz told investigators that he took an Uber to the school, then shot students in the hallways and on the grounds of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, about 15 miles northwest of downtown Fort Lauderdale.
The arrest report makes it clear that staffers immediately recognized Cruz as he got out of the Uber car, the Miami Herald reported. One staffer told a co-worker to alert authorities, but by the time that could happen, the shooting had begun.
Cruz told officers he brought more loaded magazines to the school and kept them hidden in the backpack until he got on campus. As he moved through the school, he fired into five classrooms, with the shooting lasting three minutes, Sheriff Scott Israel said.
As students began to flee, Israel said, Cruz decided to discard his AR-15 rifle and a vest he was wearing so he could blend in with the crowd. Police recovered the rifle and the vest.
Israel also said Cruz stopped at fast food restaurants after the attack, heading to a Walmart to buy a drink before walking to a McDonald's, then being taken into custody about 40 minutes later. But the question of Cruz's motive remains unanswered.
On Thursday night, at least 1,000 people attended a candlelight vigil for the victims, with audible sobs from the crowd as the names of victims were read.
Dressed in the school's colors, some held flowers while others weilded signs asking for action to fight school violence, including gun control. Members of the crowd spontaneously started shouting "no more guns, no more guns" at one point.
A day after the attack, a fuller portrait emerged of the suspect, a loner who had worked at a dollar store, joined the school's ROTC program and posted photos of weapons on Instagram. At least one student said classmates joked that Cruz would "be the one to shoot up the school."
Cruz, a 19-year-old orphan whose mother died last year, was charged with murder Thursday in the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in this sleepy community on the edge of the Everglades. It was the nation's deadliest school attack since a gunman assaulted Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., more than five years ago.