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Tags: florida | school shooting | stoneman douglas | rick scott

Gov. Rick Scott on Shooting: 'Absolutely Pure Evil'

(CBS News/Twitter)

By    |   Wednesday, 14 February 2018 10:46 PM EST

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday described the shooting at a South Florida high school that killed 17 students and adults as "absolutely pure evil" — and the state will pay funeral costs for the victims and counseling for survivors.

"As soon as you hear something like this is happening, the first thing you start thinking about the families," Scott, a two-term Republican, told reporters at a late-night news conference in Parkland, Fla.

"You think about your own family.

"As a grandparent and a parent, the first thing you think about is: 'God, I hope this never happens to my family.'

"Then, you think about it and you're furious," Scott said. "How could this ever happen in this country? How could this happen in this state?

"This is a state that has focused on keeping all of our children safe.

"You come to the conclusion this is just absolutely pure evil," the governor said. "This state does not tolerate violence.

"We have law enforcement that will always show up to defend our safety."

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said 17 people died in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which began about 2:30 p.m.

Twelve of the dead were identified late Wednesday, he said, declining to be more specific.

He later told reporters, however, that "we lost a football coach from Stoneman Douglas High School tonight," without being more specific.

No information would be released until all the victims were identified, Israel said.

He earlier identified the suspect as Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at the school who had been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons.

Israel said the suspect used an AR-15 assault-style rifle and had multiple magazines — and Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said the FBI told him the shooter "wore a gas mask and had smoke grenades."

Investigators did not tell Nelson whether any grenades were used, he said.

Israel said local police arrested Cruz away from the school without incident about two hours after the shooting was reported.

He was briefly hospitalized before taken to the Sheriff's Department. Formal charges are pending.

"Another horrific day," Israel said. "A detestable day.

"I'm absolutely sick to my stomach to see children who go to school armed with back packs and pencils lose their lives.

"This nation, we need to see something and say something."

Broward County Public Schools Supt. Robert Runcie said Cruz was a former Stoneman Douglas student who was enrolled in the district.

Federal privacy laws prevented him from being more specific, Runcie said.

Stoneman Douglas will close for the rest of the week — and grief counseling would be available for students, staff, and faculty, he said.

"No parent should ever have to send their kids to school and have them not return," Runcie told reporters.

"That should not happen in Parkland. It shouldn't happen anywhere in this country.

"We've got to find a way for this to stop," he said.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said the state would pay for all funeral expenses for the victims, as well as counseling for those affected by the attack.

"Don't have to worry about the expenses," she said. "We will take care of it."

She also warned GoFundMe would be "monitoring every site that's popping up, and no money will be disbursed under GoFundMe until they know it's legitimate."

Further, "we will not let funeral homes gouge us," Bondi said, noting representatives would be "sending down people to help with the cost of the burial expenses for these victims."

Reflecting on other mass shootings in Florida — including the June 2016 attack at the Pulse night club in Orlando that killed 49 people and wounded 58 others — Bondi said: "Sadly, we've all become a club that we never wanted to be a part of, partnering with the FBI.

"This is our third time dealing with such a mass tragedy."

In taking questions from reporters, Scott declined to discuss mental illness and gun control — saying "there's a time to continue to have these conversations . . . and we'll continue to do that."

But Israel, who is in his second term as sheriff, was more blunt and told reporters that this kind of attack could not be stopped "if a person is predisposed" to doing it.

"If a person is predisposed to committing such a horrific event by going to a school and shoot people, if a person is going to drive a truck into a crowded area, if a person is committed to committing great carnage, there's not anybody or not a lot law enforcement can do about it.

"The only things we can do is train very hard. We have to train rigorously, and we do.

"We have to be able to mitigate.

"We have to be able to respond quickly, so we can lessen the loss of lives."

The sheriff was just as direct on mental illness and access to guns.

"If we have mental-health issues, they need to be treated," Israel told reporters.

"But while people who are the victims of mental-health illnesses in this country are being treated, in the opinion of this sheriff, they should not be able to buy, surround themselves, purchase, or carry a handgun.

"Those two things don't mix."

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Describing the shooting at a South Florida high school that killed 17 students and adults as "absolutely pure evil," Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday announced the state will pay funeral costs for the victims and counseling for survivors.
florida, school shooting, stoneman douglas, rick scott
Wednesday, 14 February 2018 10:46 PM
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