TDSB schools lower flags to half-staff to honour victims of Florida massacre
Codi Wilson, CTV News Toronto
Published Thursday, February 15, 2018 12:27PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 15, 2018 1:29PM EST
The Toronto District School Board said flags at schools across the city will be lowered to half-staff on Thursday and Friday to honour those killed and wounded in a devastating shooting at a high school in Florida on Wednesday.
On Wednesday afternoon, 17 people were killed and 14 others were injured after police said a gunman walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and opened fire.
Police previously said that the suspect pulled a fire alarm, prompting students to leave the classroom.
When students piled out into the hallways, police said the gunman began shooting unsuspecting students with a semi-automatic firearm.
According to investigators, the suspect, identified by police as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, was a former student of the school but was expelled.
He was apprehended shortly after the shooting and has been charged with 17 counts of premediated murder, officials confirmed Thursday.
In a written statement released Wednesday, John Malloy, the director of education at the TDSB, and Robin Pilkey, the board chair, said the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are in their thoughts “now and in the very difficult days that lay ahead.”
“We know that media coverage of these horrible events — particularly when it happens at a school — can be challenging for some students,” the statement read, adding that Professional Support Services staff members have compiled a list of tips for parents to help their children cope with the "wide range of reactions" and emotions they may be feeling.
TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said school officials are working to reassure students that their schools are safe.
“All of our elementary schools have secure access systems. You have to be buzzed in to the office to be admitted to the school,” he said.
“Our schools are indeed safe and it is much different than the states where there is obviously a prevalence of firearms.”
He said anytime there is a tragedy of this nature, the school board tries to find a way to honour the victims.
“We are lowering the flags to half-staff at all TDSB buildings, schools and facilities, today and tomorrow just to honour the senseless loss of life that happened down in Parkland,” Bird said.
-With files from The Associated Press