U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Thursday (February 15) said his department remained “laser-focused” on addressing the issue of mental health illness in America in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, a day before.
“While most Americans with mental illness are not violent — in fact they are more likely to be victims of crimes themselves — we know that untreated serious mental illness can be associated with acts of violence, like we saw yesterday. The Department of Health and Human Services will be laser-focused on this issue in the days weeks and months to come,” Azar said.
19-year-old Nikolas Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday, after authorities said he unleashed one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. A Broward County judge ordered him to be held in jail without bond.
The ex-student walked into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Wednesday and opened fire on students and teachers, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. Police believe he acted alone.
Cruz was armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and had multiple ammunition magazines when he surrendered to officers in a nearby residential area, police said. He loved guns and was expelled for unspecified disciplinary reasons, police and former classmates said.