Officer who found alleged Florida school shooter details arrest


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (KXAN) — The 19-year-old accused of going on a shooting rampage at a South Florida High School and killing 17 people and wounding more than a dozen others appeared before a judge Thursday afternoon.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, remained silent as he stood in front of a Broward County judge. He’s charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and was denied bond.

Authorities say Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida around 3 p.m. EST Wednesday.

Coconut Creek Officer Michael Leonard (NBC News)

Officer Michael Leonard with the Coconut Creek Police Department was the first officer to make contact with Cruz in the neighboring town of Coral Springs. Leonard said he decided to go through the residential neighborhoods when he spotted a person who matched the suspect description.

“It was just myself. There was not a lot of people out,” Leonard recalled in a Thursday news conference.

“He looked like a typical high school student and for a quick moment I thought ‘could this be the person, is this who I need to stop?'” Leonard said. “Training kicked in. I pulled my vehicle over immediately.”

Leonard said Cruz complied with his commands and was taken in custody without any issues. When asked if Cruz had a gun when he was found, Leonard said he could not comment.

A motive behind the shooting spree remains unclear.

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