By Lawrence Audu

At least 17 people have been confirmed dead after a 19-year-old man opened fire at a high school campus in Parkland, Florida, the Police said.

It is the sixth school shooting incident in 2018, and the deadliest school shooting since 26 people were killed at Connecticut school Sandy Hook in 2012.

Authorities warned late on Wednesday that the death toll could rise as some of the more than 14 people who were wounded were in critical condition and undergoing surgery.

The suspect, Nikolas Cruz, was a former student at the school who had been expelled.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel told reporters Mr Cruz killed three people outside the school, before entering the building and killing another 12.

Two people later died after being taken to hospital. “It’s catastrophic. There really are no words,” Sheriff Israel tweeted later.

Three people remain in a critical condition and three others are in stable condition, health officials said.

The victims are still being identified. Sheriff Israel said a football coach was among the dead but no names have been released.

On Wednesday, the local public school district tweeted that “students and staff heard what sounded like gunfire” just before the end of the day at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The attack began at 14:30 local time (19:30 GMT).

Witnesses said that the suspect set off a fire alarm before the violence erupted.

Police and Swat team members swarmed the campus and began clearing students from the school in Parkland, about an hour north of Miami, as parents and ambulances converged on the scene.

Mr Cruz, who had been expelled for “disciplinary reasons”, was taken into custody without incident in the nearby town of Coral Springs about an hour after he left the high school, according to police. “We have already begun to dissect his websites and things on social media that he was on and some of the things… are very, very disturbing,” Sheriff Israel said.

“Just a horrible day for us,” said Robert Runcie, the superintendent of the county’s school district.

The school has nearly 3,000 students. Classes are cancelled for the rest of this week.

President Donald has in a tweet sent condolences to the affected families.