- Associated Press - Saturday, February 17, 2018

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) - The Latest on the school shooting that killed 17 people in Florida (all times local):

7:25 p.m.

Four hours from the Florida high school where 17 people were shot and killed, hundreds of people gathered in a park to rally against gun violence and call for stricter gun laws.

People lit candles in memory of the Parkland victims at the demonstration Saturday night in St. Petersburg, on Florida’s Gulf Coast. They called for legislative action on the state and federal level to end gun violence.

It comes as thousands of students, parents, teachers and neighbors held signs and pushed for gun control legislation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Anger over the massacre Wednesday also has led to calls for walkouts, sit-ins and other actions on school campuses nationwide that are aimed at pushing lawmakers to pass tougher gun laws.


7:25 p.m.

A candidate for a Maryland House seat has pledged to hold a campaign fundraiser that includes raffling off an AR-15 assault rifle, the same type used in the Florida school shooting this week.

The Baltimore Sun reported Friday that Aaron Penman, a Republican, said he still planned to hold the Saturday night event despite fielding criticism.

The Facebook page for the event says all gun winners must complete state and federal background checks.

Dozens of people posted negative comments on Penman’s Facebook page, citing the shooting in Florida that left 17 people dead.

Penman, who is a sheriff’s deputy, said canceling the event would be an infringement on the Second Amendment. He also conveyed his “heartfelt sorrow” to the victims in Florida.


6:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump spoke by phone with local officials about the Florida school shooting, offering condolences and support.

The White House says in a statement that Trump called Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky on Saturday and thanked her for her leadership and dedication to her city and its residents.

The president also spoke with Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine about the need to keep helping victims, their families and others traumatized by the shooting.

In a call, Trump praised Ty Thompson, principal of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, for his resolve in the face of danger to help students reach safety and his commitment to helping the community recover.

The White House says Trump reiterated to each official that the nation stands with Parkland and that its residents aren’t alone.


6:15 p.m.

Protesters held signs and urged for change to gun laws in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, days after 17 people were shot and killed at a high school some 25 miles away.

Thousands of students, parents, teachers and neighbors chanted, “Vote them out!” Saturday as they pushed for gun control legislation.

The rally gave a political outlet to the growing feelings of rage and mourning sparked by the carnage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday.

Authorities say a former student with mental health issues who had been expelled and reported to authorities used a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle to kill students and staff.

Student Emma Gonzalez told the crowd that politicians should stop taking donations from the National Rifle Association. She yelled, “Shame on you,” and the crowd repeated her.


2:10 p.m.

Thousands of people are gathering at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, some 25 miles from where 17 people were shot and killed at a high school.

Students from the high school where the shooting took place spoke passionately during Saturday’s rally in front of the federal courthouse, pleading with lawmakers to change the nation’s gun laws.

One teen, Emma Gonzalez, angrily criticized politicians who take campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association, and challenged them to stop taking money.

She also said adults who knew that the shooter was mentally ill should have done more to prevent him from having a weapon


2 p.m.

The shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead is prompting calls for school protests around the country.

The Network for Public Education and the American Federation of Teachers called on students, teachers and administrators to organize sit-ins, walkouts and other acts of protest on April 20, the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.

The groups said the goal is to get lawmakers to enact gun control legislation.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said the answer to school violence is to keep guns away from people who should not have them. She said she hopes the April 20 protest turns into a broader movement for change.


1:10 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence talked about school safety during a speech in Dallas, but didn’t give specifics.

In a speech Saturday, he said the Justice Department is working with other agencies to “study the intersection of mental health and criminality.”

He said that when Presidents Trump meets with governors in a few weeks, he will make school safety a top priority for the administration.

He said the administration will “take a renewed look” at giving law enforcement and local authorities the tools they need to deal with people struggling with dangerous mental illness.


1:10 p.m.

Stunned by a horrific shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead, the state Legislature is grappling with what to do in the aftermath.

Some GOP legislators wanted to consider a bill to put trained, armed volunteers or school employees inside the state’s public schools.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to take up the legislation (SB 1236), but Sen. Greg Steube, the committee chairman, announced late Friday that the measure would not be taken up after all. Steube made his decision after several top senators said they were opposed to considering the bill.

Groups opposed to the bill flooded legislators with phone calls the last two days.


12:30 p.m.

The teen accused of shooting and killing 17 people in a Florida high school is said to have left a suburban Palm Beach County mobile home in November because his benefactor gave him an ultimatum: you or the gun.

The Palm Beach Post reports Rocxanne Deschamps said, “He bought a gun and wanted to bring it into my house” in public comments that have since been removed from her Facebook page.

Chad Bennett, a friend of Deschamps’, said Nikolas Cruz “chose the gun and he left.”

It’s not known if the gun that led to his departure is the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle authorities say he fired Wednesday afternoon in the hallways of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, leaving 14 students and three adults dead.

The paper reported the woman had taken in Cruz and his younger brother after their adoptive mother died of pneumonia Nov. 1. Nikolas left the home around Thanksgiving and moved in with a family in northern Broward County, a lawyer for that family has said.


12:30 p.m.

A gun show is being held in the same county as the mass shooting that killed 17 people at a Florida school earlier in the week.

The manager of the Florida Gun Show in Fort Lauderdale said Saturday that the event is pre-scheduled years in advance, and the venues are reserved for the gun show years in advance.

Jorge Fernandez said it would have been cost prohibitive to cancel, and that they extend their “deepest condolences” to the people involved in the Parkland shooting.

Flyers posted at the show entrance said there was no “disrespect or insensitivity” intended by the show, and said show organizers demand and enforce strict gun safety and encourage training.

Hundreds of people attended the show.


12:30 p.m.

Misty Copeland, a dancer for the American Ballet Theater in New York, posted a photo on Instagram and said the troupe would honor the life of one Parkland shooting victim.

On Instagram Saturday, Copeland posted a photo of orange ribbons affixed to white ballet costumes hanging on a rack.

Friends and family - and dancers across the country - are wearing orange ribbons in memory of Jaime Guttenburg, a 14-year-old who was killed on Wednesday.

Jamie loved gymnastics and dancing.


11 a.m.

Records obtained by a newspaper show that the teen accused of killing 17 people at a Florida high school previously cut his arms and posted on a social media site, and said he wanted to buy a gun in September 2016, more than a year before the massacre.

The Sun-Sentinel reports the incident posted by Nikolas Cruz on Snapchat prompted an investigation by sheriff’s deputies and adult welfare investigators from the Department of Children & Family Services.

The documents provide further evidence that Cruz was a troubled teen who repeatedly went without help before being charged with 17 counts of murder in the Wednesday attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The DCF investigation came four days after Cruz’s 18th birthday, meaning he could legally purchase a rifle.

On Friday, DCF petitioned a Broward County judge to hold an emergency hearing to release confidential records on Cruz. A decision has not yet been made.


9 a.m.

An activist and teacher who wants gun control laws was removed from a Miami-area GOP fundraiser after confronting House Speaker Paul Ryan about this week’s mass shooting at a Florida school.

The Miami Herald reports that Maria Thorne, a Key Biscayne fifth grade teacher, said she and a friend dropped in on the fundraiser Friday at the Ritz Hotel after she noticed motorcade traffic clogging up her commute home.

Thorne said she shook Ryan’s hand and introduced herself but added, “You’re here celebrating the death of 17 children.”

She said Ryan told her he “didn’t want to talk politics” or argue. When Thorne tried to continue, security escorted her out as she chanted “No more guns!”

The National Republican Congressional Committee lists a 2018 Winter Meeting in Key Biscayne this weekend. Ryan’s spokesperson confirmed to the Herald that he attended it.



As families begin burying their dead, authorities are questioning whether they could have prevented the attack on a South Florida high school where a gunman took the lives of 14 students, the athletic director, a coach and a geography teacher.

At funerals and in the streets of Parkland, anger bubbled over at the senselessness of the shooting and at the widespread availability of guns. A rally to support gun-safety legislation was scheduled for Saturday at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale.

During the funeral for 18-year-old Meadow Pollack, her father looked down at his daughter’s plain pine coffin and screamed in anguish as Gov. Rick Scott and 1,000 other mourners looked on.

The suspect, Nikolas Cruz, has been jailed on 17 counts of murder.


This story has been corrected to say Vice President spoke in Dallas, not Houston.


Follow the AP’s complete coverage of the Florida school shooting here: -https://apnews.com/tag/Floridaschoolshooting

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