Multiple people are dead and a suspected gunman is in custody following a shooting at a South Florida high school on Wednesday.

"I'm saddened to say that 17 people lost their lives," the county's sheriff said in a tweet.


Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said that the suspected shooter was a former student at the school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which is located about 30 miles from Fort Lauderdale.

"From what I understand there was a time where he did attend this school. I don't know why he left," Israel told reporters. 

The sheriff's office later identified the shooting suspect as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz. 

President TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE said he has been in ongoing contact with Florida officials since the shooting was first reported mid-afternoon. Florida Sens. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonChina fires back after NASA criticism of rocket debris reentry The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns NASA criticizes China after rocket debris lands in Indian Ocean MORE (D) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioStudy: Early unemployment cutoff would cost 16M people 0B The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Senate votes to repeal OCC 'true lender' rule MORE (R) said they both were in contact with the school's superintendent in the wake of the shooting.

"This is a bad day for Florida and for the country," Nelson said. 

"Today is that terrible day you pray never comes," Rubio wrote on Twitter.

The White House also canceled its daily press briefing, citing the shooting.

“In light of this tragedy there will not be a regularly scheduled briefing as previously announced,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "Department of Homeland Security Secretary [Kirstjen] Nielsen also spoke with Gov. Scott, as well as state and local officials. She has briefed the president on those conversations. The governor, the secretary and other administration officials will continue to keep the president updated."

The Broward County sheriff's office posted updates on the situation throughout the afternoon on Twitter. Possible injuries were initially reported by local media as between 20 to 50. 

Aerial footage of the school broadcast by local news stations showed people being treated for injuries and several lying on the ground, while a number of students were seen running away from the school as authorities cleared buildings, letting students go.

Injured students were transported to Broward Health Medical Center and Broward Health North hospital following the incident. 

Fort Lauderdale emergency doctor Evan Boyard said in a news conference Wednesday night that 17 people had been taken to three hospitals, where they were being treated for gunshot wounds. Eight were taken to Broward Health North, he said. Two have been pronounced dead, while three remain in critical condition. Three are in stable condition, he said.

The alleged shooter, Cruz, was taken to Broward Health North in Pompano Beach, about 13 miles from the high school, and was later released in police custody, Boyard said.

The Miami Herald reported that the suspect may have been flagged as a potential threat to fellow students in the past.

"It is a horrific situation. It's just a horrible day for us," Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie told reporters.

The high school will be closed on Thursday and Friday, and all official events would be canceled, Runcie said.

Israel said at a press conference Wednesday night that 12 of the victims had so far been identified, and that law enforcement was in the process of contacting their families. He said that authorities were working to identify the remaining five victims.

Speaking alongside Israel, Scott called the shooting “absolutely, pure evil,” and vowed to provide “whatever resources are needed” to victims’ families. He said he would visit victims’ families at the hospital Wednesday night.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said that the state is prepared to pay for the funerals of the victims and for counseling services for survivors.

“Sadly, we’ve all become a club that we never wanted to be a part of,” she said at the press conference.

-Max Greenwood contributed to this report which was updated at 9:30 p.m.