Home ANS Reports Southern Florida Churches respond to deadly school shooting

Southern Florida Churches respond to deadly school shooting

by Dan Wooding

Congregations modify Ash Wednesday services, hold prayer vigils, provide counseling, promise on-going pastoral care.

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service

Nikolas Cruz mugshot smallerPARKLAND, FL (ANS – February 15, 2018) — Many churches in southern Florida modified preplanned Ash Wednesday services to become prayer vigils in the wake of a deadly school shooting Wednesday afternoon at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Seventeen students and adults were killed and more than a dozen were injured Wednesday afternoon when a former student carrying an AR-15 rifle entered the school building and began shooting. It was the 9th school shooting to occur this year. Police have interrupted plans for a number of other shootings.

According Jim Skillington, writing for the Disaster News Network (http://www.disasternews.net/), First Church, a United Methodist Church in Coral Springs, announced on its Facebook page that it planned a time of Prayer and to have Pastors available to talk after the Ash Wednesday service.

Parkridge Church, a Baptist community that met in the high school until it built its own building, held a prayer service Wednesday night and urged its congregation to pray for “our law enforcement officials, school teachers, and administrators, parents and teens, victims and families.”

Skillington also stated that, promising aid to assist healing ministries needed in the coming weeks, Bishop Ken Carter of the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church wrote: “On this Ash Wednesday our services announced the biblical imperative to ‘repent and believe the gospel.’ In light of today’s shootings, we repent from our participation in a culture of death; we acknowledge the harm we do to others, and we claim the power of the cross that breaks the cycle of violence and retaliation.”

He said that the Presbytery of Tropical Florida also promised to support anyone in need following the shooting. According to Jim Kirk of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbytery had begun an assessment of need.

Christ Church, a nearby Evangelical Lutheran congregation, said on its Facebook page, “Our hearts are breaking.” It encouraged visitors to go to the church Wednesday night. “More than ever, we need to gather to pray.”

Skillington went onto say that Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale, also announced it was modifying its Ash Wednesday service to spend “time in prayer over our city and schools…We are praying for God’s comfort to wrap all those affected with His love.”

The Salvation Army in Broward County said that in addition to providing a mobile kitchen for first responders, it was coordinating its response with the Broward Emergency Operations Center to identify ongoing needs.

“It is a day you pray every day you don’t have to see,” Robert W. Runcie, the superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, told reporters.

“We have grief counselors and crisis teams ready to assist,” Runcie wrote in a statement posted on the school system’s Website. “Dealing with this tragedy is going to take time – and we will be here for every student, every family, and every staff member.

“Our hearts are broken. Please keep everyone in your thoughts and prayers.”

“We need to pray tonight for these families”

Parkland school shooting Ge 1518649193845 11661185 ver1.0 1280 720 smallerLaw enforcement officials also suggested prayers. “We need to pray tonight for these families,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. “We need to pray for the victims, we need to pray for our communities and we need to report anything we see that is different that doesn’t make sense, that’s an aberration.”

It is the second mass shooting in Broward County, Florida, in a year. In 2017 a passenger shot a number of people at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

The teen gunman accused of opening fire with a semi-automatic rifle at his former high school in Parkland, Florida, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, officials said Thursday.

Authorities said the suspect, identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, concealed himself in the crowd fleeing Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following the massacre on Wednesday afternoon. He was arrested in nearby Coral Springs.

Fourteen others were wounded, five with life-threatening injuries, hospital officials said.

Cruz had recently been expelled from Douglas for disciplinary reasons and was enrolled elsewhere in the district, the schools superintendent in Broward County, Robert Runcie, said. Cruz took an Uber to the Douglas campus on Wednesday, Runcie told NBC News.

The gunman was believed to have been armed with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle and multiple magazines, said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. It was unclear whether he had any other weapons, Israel said.

There was no indication that the gunman had an accomplice or accomplices, federal and local authorities said.

The teen gunman accused of opening fire with a semi-automatic rifle at his former high school in Parkland, Florida, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, officials said Thursday.

Gunman concealed himself in the crowd

florida suspect nikolas cruz large tease smallerAuthorities said the suspect, identified as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, concealed himself in the crowd fleeing Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following the massacre on Wednesday afternoon. He was arrested in nearby Coral Springs.

Fourteen others were wounded, five with life-threatening injuries, hospital officials said.

Cruz had recently been expelled from Douglas for disciplinary reasons and was enrolled elsewhere in the district, the schools superintendent in Broward County, Robert Runcie, said. Cruz took an Uber to the Douglas campus on Wednesday, Runcie told NBC News.

A YouTube user named “Nikolas Cruz” reportedly posted “I’m going to be a professional school shooter” on the site.

President Donald Trump has tweeted that there were “many signs the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed.”

The gunman was believed to have been armed with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle and multiple magazines, said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. It was unclear whether he had any other weapons, Israel said.

There was no indication that the gunman had an accomplice or accomplices, federal and local authorities said.

Cruz was taken into custody off campus about an hour after he “committed this horrific, detestable act,” said Israel, who added investigators were reviewing social media postings that he described as “very disturbing.” The suspect was treated for “labored breathing” as a precaution but was later released from the hospital, according to officials.

“Absolutely pure evil”

“You come to the conclusion this is just absolutely pure evil,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott, his hands clutched over his chest.

The FBI was alerted six months ago after a YouTube user named “Nikolas Cruz” posted a comment stating “I’m going to be a professional school shooter” on the video site, BuzzFeed reported early Thursday.

Cruz’s mother died in early November and he had been staying with a local family — whose son is a junior at Douglas, the family’s attorney told NBC Miami.

He lived here without any concerns or issues for almost three months, and they are shocked and horrified by the allegations being made,” the lawyer, Jim Lewis, said, adding that his clients are fully cooperating with investigators.

The general store chain Dollar Tree confirmed that Cruz had worked at its Parkland branch.

The gunfire began outside the school and continued inside, where 17 of the victims were killed, Israel said.

All of those victims have been identified, he said, but no identities will be made public until the families have been notified.

Parents waiting for news of school shooting smallerParkland, in north Broward County, is about 30 miles northwest of Fort Lauderdale. The shooting on the sprawling campus happened despite the presence of police officers at the school.

Runcie, the school superintendent, said at least two police cars were typically on campus “on a daily basis.”

While students filed out of the school with their hands up, heavily armed SWAT team members conducted a class-by-class search to make sure there were “no other shooters” — and to retrieve any bodies, he said.

“This is a terrible day for Broward County, the state of Florida, the United States,” Israel said. “There really are no words.”

The first sign that something awful was happening Wednesday came around 2:30 p.m., not long before classes were supposed to have been dismissed, when authorities were called to respond to an active shooter.

So, once again, another shocking event of gun violence has taken place in America. The question is: When will it stop, and what action will be taken by the US goverment to stop it? With their past record, I say Don’t hold your breath.

Photo captions: 1) Nikolas Cruz was booked into Broward County Jail on 17 counts of premeditated murder. 2) Terrified students leaving the scene. 3) The moment Nikolas Cruz was captured after the Parkland school shooting. 4) Parents wait for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 5) Dan Wooding recording his radio show.

At the microphone at KWVE Dan WoodingAbout the writer: Dan Wooding, 77, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 55 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books and has two TV programs and one radio show in Southern California.

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