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17 killed in Florida school shooting, ex-student held

19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz into custody in connection with the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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At least 17 people were killed Wednesday in a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the Broward County Sheriff’s office said.

Authorities say they have taken 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz into custody in connection with the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday.

The school shooting suspect was arrested “without incident” an hour after allegedly leaving the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School grounds.

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Seventeen people were killed and more than 14 were injured in the Parkland, Florida school shooting.

Authorities believe the suspected shooter worked alone. More than 3,200 students attend ninth through 12th grade at the high school, which is staffed by approximately 130 teachers.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed in a evening news conference that Cruz is a former student of the high school who was expelled for disciplinary reasons, Fox News reports. Sen. Bill Nelson also told FOX that Cruz was wearing a gas mask during the shooting and may have been carrying smoke bombs.

In an interview Wednesday evening with CNN, Marjory Stoneman Douglas math teacher Jim Gard, who had Cruz as a student in 2016, was surprised to hear the news of his arrest. “He was a quiet kid in class, I never had any problems with Nick,” Gard said.

“Some of the girls in my class said that I guess he had some problems with some other girls, but that’s hearsay, and all that,” he added. “As far as my class goes, I remember an email or two from admin [expressing concern] but I can’t remember exactly what it said.”

However, Gard expanded on his account to the Miami Herald, telling the paper that he believed an email from the school administration circulated warning teachers that Cruz had made threats against other students. “We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” Gard said. “There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”

Superintendent Robert Runcie of the Broward County School District told reporters outside the school they had received no concerns about Cruz. “We received no warnings,” he said. “Potentially there could have been signs out there. But we didn’t have any warning or phone calls or threats that were made.”

A student named Nicholas Coke interviewed on the scene by WSVN-7 described Cruz as a “loner.” Coke also recalled a time in middle school when Cruz kicked out a glass window before getting caught, according to the Miami Herald.

“He had a lot of problems in middle school,” Coke said.

“He’s been a troubled kid,” an unidentified student who said he knew Cruz told local media. “And he’s always had a certain amount of issues going on. He shot guns because he felt it gave him, I guess, an exhilarating feeling.”

“He always had guns on him,” another unidentified student told WFOR-TV, who said Cruz was never shy about showing off his guns. “The crazy stuff that he did was not right for school, and he got kicked out of school multiple times for that kind of stuff.”

Another unidentified student described the suspect to CBS News. “The kid was crazy,” the student said. “I had engineering with him a couple years ago and he wasn’t allowed to come to school with a backpack and he would threaten students and break glass and get into fights so he got kicked out of school.”

“All he would talk about is guns, knives and hunting,” former classmate Joshua Charo, 16, told the Miami Herald. “I can’t say I was shocked. From past experiences, he seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this.”

Helen Pasciolla, a retired neighbor who lives in the Cruz family’s former neighborhood in Parkland, told the New York Times that Cruz and his brother, Zachary, who are both adopted, had regular behavioral problems.

Authorities have begun looking into Cruz’s social media profile, findings which Broward Sheriff Scott Israel described to reporters as “very, very disturbing.”

Unverified images on social media accounts cited by multiple media sources appear to show a man holding firearms, wielding knives like a claw, and a collection of guns on a bed.

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United States Employment Rate will fall further: Fed

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Washington, April 16 (IANS) Economic activity “contracted sharply and abruptly” across all regions in the US as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.

“The hardest-hit industries – because of social distancing measures and mandated closures – were leisure and hospitality, and retail aside from essential goods,” the Fed said in its latest survey on economic conditions, known as the Beige Book, based on information collected from its 12 regional reserve banks before April 6, Xinhua reported.

“All Districts reported highly uncertain outlooks among business contacts, with most expecting conditions to worsen in the next several months,” the Fed said.

The survey showed that employment declined in all districts as the COVID-19 pandemic affected firms in many sectors.

“Employment cuts were most severe in the retail and leisure and hospitality sectors, where most Districts reported widespread mandatory closures and steep falloffs in demand,” the survey said, adding severe job cuts were also widespread in the manufacturing and energy sectors.

“Contacts in several Districts noted they were cutting employment via temporary layoffs and furloughs that they hoped to reverse once business activity resumes. The near-term outlook was for more job cuts in coming months,” the survey said.

The survey noted that no district reported upward wage pressures, with most citing “general wage softening and salary cuts” except for high-demand sectors such as grocery stores.

“These trends were seen as reflecting weaker demand for many goods and services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the survey said.

The survey came after the Commerce Department reported earlier on Wednesday that US retail sales plunged in March by the most on record as the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to take a big toll on the US economy.

The US economy is expected to contract by 5.9 per cent this year, according to the World Economic Outlook (WEO) report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday.

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New York statewide COVID-19 deaths surpass 10,000

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

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New York, April 14 : Governor of the US state of New York Andrew Cuomo said statewide deaths from COVID-19 rose to 10,056, adding “the worst is over if we continue to be smart” in coping with the novel coronavirus.

Cuomo on Monday said at his daily briefing that a total of 671 people passed away on Sunday due to the disease, a number much lower than in the past few days, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

“We are controlling the spread,” said Cuomo. “I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart. I believe we can start on the path to normalcy,” he said.

He said he would be joined by several other governors of neighbouring states later on Monday to discuss how to reopening the economy in a coordinated way.

On Twitter, the governor said that any plan to reopen society must be driven by data and experts, not opinion and politics.

He said the objective is to ease isolation and increase economic activity without increasing the infection rate.

“We will learn from the warning signs from other countries. We will take every precaution. We will work together as a region,” he added.

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US now has highest COVID-19 deaths, surpasses Italy: Johns Hopkins

A total of 20,071 people have died of the disease among 519,453 confirmed cases in the country as of 4 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) on Saturday

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Washington, April 12 : The UnS has surpassed Italy as the country with the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world as the fatalities as of Sunday reached 20,604, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Sunday morning, Italy has reported 19,648 coronavirus deaths, placing it in the second position after the US, the data published by the university’s enter for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed.

The US also accounts for the highest number of confirmed cases with 529,887. Spain, where the number of confirmed infections stands at 163,027, is a distant second, followed by Italy with 152,271 cases.

New York state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, has recorded the most deaths in the country, 8,627, which is followed by New Jersey and Michigan with 2,183 and 1,276, respectively, the CSSE data showed.

A total of 32,001 patients in the country have recovered, it added.

US President Donald Trump’s administration, which earlier estimated that the pandemic would cause anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US, revised its projection downward this week to 60,000, reports Efe news.

Members of the White House coronavirus task force credit the more optimistic forecast to the success of the stay-at-home orders issued by 42 of the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, covering around 316 million people.

Trump, who has repeatedly decried the economic cost of closing schools and businesses to contain the virus, said late last month that he hoped to re-open the country by Easter Sunday.

During Friday’s news briefing by the task force, Trump sought to reassure Americans that he would guided by medical experts as well as by recommendations from the “Opening Our Country Council” he plans to install next week.

“I want to get it open as soon as possible. The facts are going to determine what I do,” the president said.

“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision. But I would say, without question, it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Trump said.

As of Sunday, the number of global coronavirus cases stood at 1,777,517, with 108,862 deaths, while 404,236 people have recovered.

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