Florida school shooting: Traumatised students return to class

Hundreds of police officers support the students as they return to school for the first time.
Hundreds of police officers support the students as they return to school for the first time. Photo credit: Reuters

Students and teachers traumatised by one of America's deadliest mass shootings have returned to classes with white ribbons and white roses to honour the 17 people killed by a gunman in their Florida high school two weeks ago.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reopened most of its doors for about 3000 students at 7.40am local time on Wednesday for a half-day schedule. The building where most of the victims died will remain closed indefinitely.

Nicholas Rodrigues, 15, a freshman who lives in Coral Springs with his parents and two sisters, said he walked the mile to school on Wednesday rather than ride his Black Mongoose bicycle because he "wanted to think about things".

School buses arrived shortly after 7am, with several hundred police officers on hand to escort students, who wore the school's colours of burgundy and white, to make them feel safe.

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was killed in the massacre, said he was not afraid for his surviving son, also a student at Douglas, because it is now the safest school in America.

"But [it's] bittersweet because my son walks in here without his sister," Mr Guttenberg told CNN on Wednesday. "This is not what we envisioned for ourselves watching our kids go through high school."

State legislators are considering a bill that would pay to demolish Building 12, widely known as the freshman building, and replace it with a memorial to the victims of the February 14 massacre.

Teenage survivors of the carnage have launched an extraordinary student-led campaign to lobby lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the statehouse in Tallahassee for new restrictions on firearms.

But many express deep trepidation about returning to the scene of a shooting rampage that ranks as the second-deadliest act of gun violence at an American public school.

"It's just really hard to think about," David Hogg, a senior who has become one of the school's leading gun-safety activists, told NBC News on Tuesday. "Imagine getting in a plane crash and having to get back on the same plane again and again and again and being expected to learn and act like nothing's wrong."

A former Stoneman Douglas student, Nikolas Cruz, 19, who authorities say was expelled last year for unspecified disciplinary problems and had numerous run-ins in the law, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Nikolas Cruz is charged with 17 counts of murder.
Nikolas Cruz is charged with 17 counts of murder. Photo credit: CBS News