Former student confesses to Florida school shooting

Nikolas Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2018
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Former student confesses to Florida school shooting

A teen has confessed to gunning down 17 people at his former high school in Florida, court documents showed Thursday, as the FBI admitted it had received a tip-off about the 19-year-old gunman yet failed to stop him.
As Americans reeled from the country’s worst school massacre since the horror at Sandy Hook six years ago, President Donald Trump suggested the root cause of the violence was a crisis of mental health — and defied calls to address gun control.
Terrified students hid in closets and under desks on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, texting for help as the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, stalked the school with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle.
Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, appearing Thursday afternoon via video link before a judge who ordered him held without bond. More than a dozen other people were injured in the shooting spree.
“Today is a day of healing. Today is a day of mourning,” Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.
After being read his legal rights, “Cruz stated that he was the gunman who entered the school campus armed with a AR-15 and began shooting students that he saw in the hallways and on the school grounds,” court documents showed.
Cruz arrived at the school in an Uber at 2:19 pm, authorities said. Less than three minutes later, he started spraying multiple classrooms with bullets. At 2:28 pm, he left the campus, according to an official timeline.
Cruz told police that he discarded his rifle — which he bought legally in Florida — and tactical gear in order to blend in with the crowd so he could flee, the documents showed.
After the shooting, he stopped at a Wal-Mart and then McDonald’s, Israel told reporters. He was detained 40 minutes later, after police identified him using school security camera footage.
In a somber televised address to the nation in response to the 18th school shooting so far this year, Trump vowed to make mental health a priority — after tweeting about the “many signs” the gunman was “mentally disturbed” — while avoiding any talk of gun curbs.
Earlier in the day, Trump had asserted that “neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!“
Expelled from school for disciplinary reasons, Cruz was known to be fixated on firearms — and had reportedly been identified as a potential threat to his classmates.
But US authorities themselves were under scrutiny, after the FBI confirmed it was alerted last September to a message posted on YouTube, in which a user named Nikolas Cruz vowed: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”
In a statement, the FBI said it had carried out “database reviews and other checks” but was unable to identify the person who made the post.


Trump nominates Kelly Craft to be US ambassador to UN

U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft takes part in a meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Trudeau's office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, November 3, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 6 min 34 sec ago
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Trump nominates Kelly Craft to be US ambassador to UN

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said on Friday he was nominating Kelly Craft, currently the US ambassador to Canada, as his envoy to the United Nations.
Craft, a top Republican donor from Kentucky, rose this week as a serious contender for the post based on a recommendation by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Kentuckian.
It was not immediately clear if Craft would hold a Cabinet-level position, as the previous ambassador Nikki Haley did. Regardless, she will need to be confirmed by the US Senate.
“Kelly has done an outstanding job representing our Nation and I have no doubt that, under her leadership, our Country will be represented at the highest level,” Trump said in a tweet announcing his decision.