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Students return to Florida school where 17 were killed

Students at a Florida high school where 17 of their classmates and staff members were killed have returned to gather their belongings thrown down in panic during the shooting nearly two weeks ago.

Key points:

  • School due to reopen on Wednesday
  • Flowers cover makeshift memorial at school
  • Pressure mounting on authorities over response to tip-offs

Thousands of students joined their parents in walking past the three-story building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where the February 14 massacre took place.

It is now cordoned off by fencing that was covered with banners from other schools showing their support.

"Just seeing the building was scary," freshman Francesca Lozano said as she exited the school with her mum.

Still, she was happy to see her friends.

"That made it a lot better."

Seventeen people dressed in white costumes as angels stood by a makeshift memorial outside the school.

Organiser Terry Decarlo said they tried to go to every mass shooting and disaster so the survivors, "know angels are looking over them and protecting them".

Parents and students walk past a memorial for the victims of the Florida school shooting.

Sunday's return was designed to ease students back into the school environment ahead of Wednesday's reopening.

"Two of my best friends aren't here anymore," said freshman Sammy Cooper, who picked up the book bag he had dropped as he saw the accused gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, begin shooting.

"But I'm definitely going to school Wednesday. I will handle it."

Junior Sebastian Pena said the gathering was a chance to see friends and his teachers, and to "come together as a family".

Earlier on Sunday, Florida Governor Rick Scott's office said he had asked Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen to investigate the law enforcement response to the shooting.

The agency confirmed it would start the investigation immediately.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel has come under scrutiny after the revelation last week that deputy Scot Peterson, who was on the scene, did not go in to confront Cruz during the attack.

It is also facing backlash for apparently mishandling some of the 18 tip-offs related to the suspected shooter.

Seventeen people dressed as angels stand near a memorial of flowers.

Chilling 13-minute phone call to FBI not followed up

The tips were among a series of what authorities now describe as the clearest missed warning signs that Cruz, who had a history of disturbing behaviour, posed a serious threat.

Mr Israel defended his leadership on Sunday and said investigators were looking into claims three other deputies were on the scene but failed to enter the school when the chance to save lives still existed.

To date, the investigation pointed to only one deputy being on campus while the killer was present, he told CNN.

Mr Israel also labelled as "absolutely untrue" reports the deputies waited outside even though children were inside the building needing urgent medical treatment.

The FBI acknowledged it failed to investigate a tip about Cruz the agency received on January 5.

The Associated Press obtained a transcript of the more than 13-minute phone call.

A woman close to the accused warned the FBI in chilling detail Cruz had a growing collection of guns and a temper so uncontrollable she worried about him, "getting into a school and just shooting the place up".

"I know he's going to explode," she told the call-taker.

Donald Trump questions the inaction of an armed officer who was on the scene of the shooting

AP

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