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'Numerous fatalities' at Florida high school; shooter in custody

Family members embrace after a student walked out from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Police advised teachers and students to remain barricaded inside and await help

Police were hunting for a shooter who opened fire Wednesday at a high school in Florida, an incident that killed "numerous" people and left between 20 and 50 people injured in the latest act of mass violence to erupt in the United States.

Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie confirmed there were "numerous fatalities" after a lone gunman opened fire at the Stoneman Douglas High high school in Parkland, FL.

The country sheriff confirmed there were 14 "victims".

"Deputies are responding to reports of a shooting at Stoneman Douglas High. There are reports of victims," the Broward Sheriff's Office said in a statement as reports of the incident emerged earlier Wednesday.

"AVOID THE AREA," they added, not that the shooter was "still at large."

The Margate Fire Department told CBS Miami there were between 20 and 50 victims. The extent of the injuries was unclear.

Local television footage showed a heavy police presence and a large number of students and staff filing away from the school.

One injured victim was seen being placed into an ambulance on a stretcher.

Police officers in helmets, bulletproof vests and armed with automatic weapons could be seen stationed at several points around the school.

"What happened was that the fire bell rang and we all thought it was a drill because we had already had a fire drill," an unidentified student told WSVN 7 News.

"We thought it's another drill so we didn't take it seriously and then we heard pops from the other side of the school," the student said.

Police from neighboring Coral Springs advised teachers and students in the building to "remain barricaded inside until police reach you."

CBS News cited the sheriff's office as saying there were multiple people injured.

No child should 'feel unsafe'

"My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting," President Donald Trump said on Twitter.

"No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school."

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, part of the Broward County public school district, has nearly 3,000 students, according to 2014 figures.

The shooting, one of several since the start of the year, will once again throw the spotlight on America's epidemic of gun violence and the ready accessibility of weapons, with 33,000 gun-related deaths annually.

Since January 2013, "there have been at least 283 school shootings across the country -- which averages out to one school shooting a week," according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit group that advocates for gun control.

Since the 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were shot dead, warning procedures and emergency drills have multiplied at US schools.

The goal is to teach school children how to react to a shooter who opens fire at random.

More to come.

(Staff with AFP)

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