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A former student at a Florida high school opened fire in the school on Wednesday, killing over 17  and sending hundreds of panicked young people fleeing their classrooms before he was arrested by police, authorities said.

The Broward County Sheriff’s Department said “at least 14 victims” from the shooting had been taken to area hospitals, but it was not immediately clear how many of those survived and how many may have died of their injuries.

Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters a short time later there were “multiple” deaths.

CNN reported 16 people were killed, a figure that could not be independently confirmed

The violence erupted shortly before dismissal at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, about 45 miles (72 km) north of Miami. Live television footage showed students streaming out of the building as dozens of police and emergency services personnel swarmed the area.

“There are numerous fatalities. It’s a horrific situation,” Broward Country Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie told reporters.

The gunman, Nikolaus, 19 , surrendered to police without a struggle, Israel said.

“It’s catastrophic,” he said. “There really are no words.”

Israel offered few details on the suspect’s identity or motive other than to say he had previously attended the school. “I don’t know why he left, I don’t know when he left,” the sheriff added.

It was the 18th shooting in a U.S. school so far this year, according to gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety. That tally includes suicides and incidents when no one was injured, as well as the January incident when a 15-year-old gunman killed two students at a Benton, Kentucky, high school.

More than five years have passed since a gunman killed 20 first graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, stirring the long U.S. debate about gun rights, which are protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

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