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In South Florida, 'People Want Answers' About School Shooting Suspect

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We focus now on the people targeted by a gunman at a Florida high school. Police say former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire, killing 17 people yesterday. When it was over, teacher Melissa Falkowski reflected on what happened.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MELISSA FALKOWSKI: I don't think we could have been more prepared than we were today. I mean, we talked to every single class period that sat in front of us about what to do in this situation. And every single teacher did that with every single class that they had until the kids were tired of hearing about it. I mean, they knew what to do. We knew what to do. And even still, even with that, we still have 17, you know, casualties, 17 people that aren't going to return to their families.

INSKEEP: Let's talk about this now with WLRN reporter Peter Haden, who is in South Florida. Mr. Haden, welcome to the program.

PETER HADEN, BYLINE: Thanks, Steve.

INSKEEP: So 17 people killed. Let's talk about what is known so far about those 17. Are any names known?

(DEAD AIR)

HADEN: Steve? I'm sorry. You've cut out.

INSKEEP: I was asking if there are any names known of the 17 people who were killed and if so who.

HADEN: Well, police have not released any of the names of the fatalities yesterday. As of 9 p.m. last night, they were waiting to contact all the families and identify all of the victims before they would release those names. We're thinking that here, where I'm at a press conference that's about to take place with the Broward sheriff's office, they may release those names.

INSKEEP: But you have one name. Isn't this correct? There's a faculty member whose story is known to some degree?

HADEN: That's right. So other media outlets have reported that an assistant football coach, coach Aaron Feis, who was the assistant football coach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a part-time security guard, he was killed. And, Steve, they say he was actually shielding students from the shooter when he was shot. He put himself between the shooter and students, where he was shot and died from his injuries.

INSKEEP: You're saying a part-time security guard. So this may have been someone who was trained, had some kind of background in what to do in a situation like this?

HADEN: Correct.

INSKEEP: The other 16, described as both students and adults. Is that correct?

HADEN: That's right, Steve.

INSKEEP: So what is the mood where you are on the morning after this shooting?

HADEN: Well, it's somber. I'm at this press conference location. There's a crush of reporters. As you can imagine, there's a lot of anticipation to learn more about the victims, about the timeline of events that took place Wednesday, and a lot of people just hungry for information at this point.

INSKEEP: What are people thinking as they hear about the social media posts by the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, talking about wanting to be a school shooter, among other things, apparently?

HADEN: Well, it's disturbing, certainly. I think everyone would like to know how much those threats had been investigated and how seriously they were taken. Certainly, people want answers on that respect.

INSKEEP: OK. Peter Haden is awaiting a news conference. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.