A student who went to his suburban Denver high school Friday armed with a shotgun and looking for a specific teacher shot two students, including one critically, before killing himself, the local sheriff said.
Students wait for buses to take them to be reunited with their parents after they were evacuated from Arapahoe High School after a shooting on the campus in Centennial, Colo., on Friday. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the shooter shot two others at the school, before killing himself. — Photo by The Associated Press
“The teacher began to understand that he was being looked at and exited the school. One student confronted the armed student and was shot,” Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said.
One of the wounded students, a girl, was in serious condition, Robinson said. The other student suffered minor injuries and was expected to be released from the hospital Friday night, he said.
A suspected Molotov cocktail was also found inside Arapahoe High School, the sheriff said. The bomb squad was investigating the device.
The student with the shotgun wasn’t trying to hide it when he entered the school from a student parking area and started asking for the teacher by name, Robinson said. The teacher then left the school, Robinson said.
“He knew he was the target and he left that school in an effort to try to encourage the shooter to also leave the school,” the sheriff said. “That was a very wise tactical decision.”
Deputies and police officers who responded to the school immediately entered to engage the gunman as students were kept locked in their classrooms.
“Within 20 minutes of the time of the report of the shooting, our deputies found the suspect dead inside the school,” Robinson said.
Several other school districts in the Denver area went into lockdown as reports of the shooting spread. Police as far away as Fort Collins, about a two-hour drive north, were increasing security at public schools because of the shooting, which came a day before the anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
At Arapahoe High, students were seen walking toward the school’s running track with their hands in the air, and television footage showed students being patted down. Robinson said deputies wanted to make sure there were no other conspirators, but now believe the gunman acted alone.
Parents were told to go to a church to find their children and stood in long lines. One young girl who was barefoot embraced her parents and the family began to cry. Neighbourhoods were jammed with cars as parents sought out their children.
Arapahoe High sits just eight miles east of Columbine High School, in Littleton, where two teenage shooters killed 12 classmates and a teacher before killing themselves in 1999. The practice of sending law enforcement directly into an active shooting, as was done Friday, was something that developed in response to the Columbine shooting.