Nikolas Cruz, an orphaned 19-year-old, responsible for the mass killing in a Florida school on Wednesday, was charged Thursday morning with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
The accused, still wearing a hospital gown after being treated for laboured breathing, and weighing in at 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds, was ordered held without bond and booked into jail.
Cruz, who possesses AR-15 rifle, has had a troubled past, perhaps worsened by his expulsion from the school he went to attack.
His arraignment today followed his being questioned for hours by state and federal authorities following the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in five years.
Fourteen wounded survivors were hospitalized as bodies were recovered from inside and around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Cruz’s former classmates thought they were having another drill Wednesday afternoon when a fire alarm sounded, requiring them to file out of their classrooms.
That’s when police said Cruz, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 people and sending hundreds of students fleeing into the streets.
It was US deadliest school shooting since a gunman attacked an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, more than five years ago.
Authorities offered no immediate details about a possible motive, except to say that Cruz had been kicked out of the high school, which has about 3,000 students. Students who knew him described a volatile teenager whose strange behaviour had caused others to end friendships with him.
Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old junior, said Cruz was expelled last school year because he got into a fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. She said he had been abusive to the girl.
“I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him,” said Dakota Mutchler, also 17.
Cruz was taken into custody without a fight about an hour after the shooting in a residential neighbourhood about a mile away. He had multiple magazines of ammunition, authorities said.
The sheriff said 12 bodies were found inside the building, two others outside and another short distance away from the school.