THOUSANDS of angry students, parents and residents have demanded stricter gun control laws, as details emerged about the suspect accused of killing 17 people in a Florida high school.

The rally, held in central Fort Lauderdale, was attended by scores of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the shooting happened.

Teenagers spoke passionately during Saturday’s rally in front of the federal courthouse, pleading with legislators to change the nation’s gun laws.

One student, Emma Gonzalez, criticised politicians who take campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association. She challenged them to stop taking money, leading the crowd in a call-and-response chant.

“They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun,” she said, and the crowd chanted: “We call BS.”

She also said adults who knew that the shooter was mentally ill should have done more to prevent him from having a weapon.

From public records, interviews with friends and family and online interactions, it appears that Nikolas Cruz was unstable and violent – and that when notified about his threatening behaviour, law enforcement did little to stop it.

Cruz faces 17 counts of first-degree murder in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and is being held at the Broward County Jail without bond.