Shooting suspect posts disturbing online

The suspect in a deadly rampage at a Florida high school is a troubled teenager who posted disturbing material on social media before the shooting spree that killed at least 17 people, according to a law enforcement official and former schoolmates.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said the 19-year-old suspect, Nikolas Cruz, had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for "disciplinary reasons."

"I don't know the specifics," the sheriff said.

However, Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old junior, said Cruz was expelled last school year after a fight with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend.

She said Cruz had been abusive to his girlfriend.

"I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him," Olvera said.

Israel said investigators were dissecting the suspect's social media posts, calling them very, very disturbing, without elaborating.

Daniel Huerfano, a student who fled Wednesday's attack, said he recognised Cruz from an Instagram photo in which Cruz posed with a gun in front of his face.

Huerfano recalled Cruz as a shy student and remembered seeing him walking around with his lunch bag.

"He was that weird kid that you see ... like a loner," he added.

Dakota Mentcher, a 17-year-old junior, said he used to be close friends with Cruz but hadn't seen him in more than a year following his expulsion from school.

"He started progressively getting a little more weird," Mentcher said.

Mentcher recalled Cruz posting on Instagram about killing animals and said he had talked about doing target practice in his backyard with a pellet gun.

"He started going after one of my friends, threatening her, and I cut him off from there," Mentcher said.

Jim Gard, a maths teacher who said Cruz had been in his class last year, said he believes the school had sent out an email warning teachers that Cruz shouldn't be allowed on campus with a backpack.

"There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus," Gard said.

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