Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski urged community members to come together “to support one another in this time of grief” after a shooting rampage on 14th February at a Broward County high school left at least 17 people dead.
“With God’s help, we can remain strong and resolute to resist evil in all its manifestations,” the archbishop said. “May God heal the brokenhearted and comfort the sorrowing as we once again face as a nation another act of senseless violence and horrifying evil.”
In a late-night telegram to Archbishop Wenski, Pope Francis assured ‘all those affected by this devastating attack of his spiritual closeness’.
‘With the hope that such senseless acts of violence may cease,’ he invoked ‘divine blessings of peace and strength’ on the South Florida community.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, called for prayer and healing. He urged all unite their “prayers and sacrifices for the healing and consolation” of those affected by the violence in South Florida and for a society “with fewer tragedies caused by senseless gun violence.”
Law enforcement officials identified the shooting suspect as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons from the school where he opened fire – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. On the afternoon of 14th February, Cruz allegedly went on the shooting rampage shortly before school was to let out for the day. He was apprehended about an hour after shots were reported at the school.
The suspect carried an AR-15 rifle and had “countless magazines,” Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. He also told reporters that of the 17 fatalities, “12 people died in the school, two were killed outside the school, one died on the street and another two died at the hospital.” Several others were transported to the hospital. Details about the shooter’s motive were still being pieced together.
Picture: A relative embraces a student after being reunited following a shooting on 14th February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. At least 17 people were killed in the shooting. The suspect, 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz, is in custody, the sheriff said. (CNS photo/Giorgio Viera, EPA).