April 25, 2014

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UPDATED: Sheriff: Colo. school shooter wounds 2, kills self

A parent picks up her daughter at a church where students from nearby Arapahoe High School were evacuated to after a shooting on the Centennial, Colo., campus Friday. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the shooter shot two others at the school, before apparently killing himself. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

A parent picks up her daughter at a church where students from nearby Arapahoe High School were evacuated to after a shooting on the Centennial, Colo., campus Friday. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the shooter shot two others at the school, before apparently killing himself. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A teenager who wounded a fellow student before killing himself at a suburban Denver high school entered the building with a shotgun, a machete, three Molotov cocktails and ammunition strapped to his body, likely intending to track down a librarian who had disciplined him, authorities said Saturday.

After firing a round down a hallway, Karl Pierson, 18, shot a fellow student who just happened to be sitting nearby with a friend as he headed toward the library. Claire Davis, 17, was shot in the head at point-blank range and remained hospitalized Saturday in critical condition.

Pierson set off one of the devices, but killed himself just one minute and 20 seconds after entering the building because he knew a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school was closing in, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said at a news conference.

Pierson’s original target was believed to be a librarian who coached the school’s speech and debate team. The librarian, whose name was not released, had disciplined the teen in September for reasons that haven’t been disclosed.

The librarian was able to escape the school unharmed, Robinson said.

The sheriff also said Davis appeared to be a random target. Based on Pierson’s arsenal, Robinson believes the teen intended to hurt many others at the school just 8 miles from Columbine High School.

“His evil intent was to harm multiple individuals,” Robinson said.

Pierson legally purchased his shotgun at a local store a week before the shooting and bought the ammunition the day of the shooting. Anyone 18 and older is allowed to buy a shotgun inColorado; only those over 21 can legally buy a handgun.

According to Robinson, Pierson fired another round down the hallway after wounding Davis. Pierson then entered the library, fired one shot and detonated one Molotov cocktail, which caused three bookshelves to catch fire. After that, he fired a fifth round, ran to a corner and shot himself.

Robinson said investigators believe Pierson made some kind of threat in September, after the librarian disciplined him.

“We are looking into that, to the degree that it was understood, and then what interactions or interventions took place,” the sheriff said. No other details on the threat were released.

Students and a teacher described Pierson as a smart and sometimes goofy student who often talked about his beliefs during class, sometimes even debating his teachers. They said he was outspoken about his Communist-leaning political views.

They also said he was an Eagle Scout who finished at the top of speech competitions.

Pierson competed in extemporaneous speaking — in which students prepare short speeches on current events — in the National Forensic League’s national tournament in June in Birmingham, Ala. He didn’t advance to the elimination rounds, the league said.

“I think he (Pierson) really cultivated his speech and argument skills and really thought that was a big part of his identity,” said Steve Miles, an English teacher who taught Pierson as a freshman.

Zach Runberg, 18, a fellow senior from Pierson’s English class, said the teen was funny and made intelligent jokes.

“He would speak for himself,” Runberg said. “He would not be afraid to tell someone how he feels.”

Pierson, whose parents were divorced, lived at least part of the time with his mother in a higher-end neighborhood in suburban Highlands Ranch. The home and others around it have three-car garages, and a country club is nearby. The front door of the home was covered with plywood Saturday after authorities conducted a search overnight.

Challon Winer, who lives across the street from Pierson’s home, said he often would see the teen mowing the lawn or shoveling snow from the driveway.

“I noticed that he didn’t look extremely happy, but he was a teenager,” subject to the normal moods of that age group, Winer said.

In recent days the teen’s schedule appeared to change, and he left the house a little later than usual, Winer said.

Winer said Pierson’s mother, Barbara Pierson, has worked with the Neighborhood Watch group and sometimes sent emails reminding residents about safety precautions. “She seemed aware of what was going on,” Winer said.

Meanwhile, the family of the wounded student issued a statement Saturday saying she is suffering from severe head trauma, and asking for privacy. People gathered for a vigil for her Saturday night, while some students collected money to help cover her medical expenses.

Senior Chris Davis said he helped organize the fundraiser in hopes of helping his classmates and the larger community heal.

“I feel like it’s going to make us a stronger senior class and school as a whole,” Chris Davis said. “Everyone went through it, and we all know people experienced it in their own way, and we just need to be there for everybody.”

Chris Davis is not related to Claire Davis, but his locker at school is right next to hers. He described Claire Davis as someone who loves horses, has a lot of friends and always seems happy.

The Arapahoe shooting came a day before the one-year anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., attack in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. About 200 people, including relatives of the victims of last year’s Aurora theater shooting, gathered in a park in Denver to remember those killed in Newtown.

 

EARLIER VERSION:

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado sheriff says a student who shot two others before apparently killing himself at a Denver-area high school is believed to have acted alone.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson says the shooter entered Arapahoe High School in Centennial on Friday armed with a shotgun and looking for a teacher he identified by name.

Robinson says the teacher immediately left the school when he learned the student was looking for him.

“The teacher began to understand that he was being looked at and exited the school. One student confronted the armed student and was shot,” Robinson said.

The critically injured student was in surgery at a nearby hospital, said Jason Dunkel, spokesman for Littleton Adventist Hospital.

A third student was injured at the school, but it wasn’t clear whether that student was shot.

Police were outside the school, and students were seen walking toward the school’s running track with their hands in the air. Television footage showed students being patted down.

The school is about 8 miles east of Columbine High School in Littleton, where two teenage shooters killed 12 classmates and a teacher before killing themselves in 1999.

The shooting also came a day before the first anniversary of the school massacre in Newtown, where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Tracy Monroe, who had step-siblings who attended Columbine, was standing outside the high school looking at her phone, reading text messages from her 15-year-old daughter inside.

Monroe said she got the first text from her daughter, sophomore Jade Stanton, at 12:41 p.m. The text read, “there’s sirens. It’s real. I love you”

A few minutes later, Jade texted “shots were fired in our school.” Monroe rushed to the school and was relieved when Jade texted that a police officer entered her classroom and that she was safe.

Monroe was family friends with a teacher killed in the Columbine shooting, Dave Carpenter.

“We didn’t think it could happen in Colorado then, either,” Monroe said.

More than 2,100 students attend Arapahoe High School where nine out of 10 graduates go on to college, according to the Littleton Public Schools website.

 

 

EARLIER VERSION:

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — A suburban Denver student shot at least one other student at a high school Friday before he apparently turned the gun on himself, authorities said.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the student was wounded when he confronted the gunman at Arapahoe High School in Centennial.

Officers found another injured student while securing the school, Robinson said.

A student was taken to a hospital in critical condition, said Jason Dunkel, spokesman for Littleton Adventist Hospital.

Students were seen walking toward the school’s running track with their hands in the air. Television footage showed students being patted down.

The school is about 8 miles east of Columbine High School in Littleton, where two teenage shooters killed 12 classmates and a teacher before killing themselves in 1999

 

EARLIER VERSION:

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — A Colorado sheriff says a suspect in a Denver-area high school shooting has died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said Friday one other student also was wounded at Arapahoe High School in Centennial.

 

 

EARLIER VERSION:

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — One student was in critical condition Friday after reports of a shooting at a high school in suburban Denver, hospital and state officials said.

The student was in surgery, said Jason Dunkel, spokesman for Littleton Adventist Hospital. It’s unclear how the student was wounded.

Police were outside the school, and students were seen walking toward the school’s running track with their hands in the air. Television footage showed students being patted down.

Colorado division of emergency management spokeswoman Micki Trost said her director went to Arapahoe High School in Centennial after reports of an active shooter. There weren’t any more immediate details.

The school is about 8 miles east of Columbine High School in Littleton, where two teenage shooters killed 12 classmates and a teacher before killing themselves in 1999.

 

EARLIER VERSION:

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Colorado emergency officials say police are responding to a report of a shooting at a high school in suburban Denver.

State division of emergency management spokeswoman Micki Trost said Friday that her director went to Arapahoe High School in Centennial. There weren’t any more immediate details.

Police were outside the school, and students were seen milling around on sidewalks.

The school is about 8 miles east of Columbine High School in Littleton, where two teenage shooters killed 12 classmates and a teacher before killing themselves in 1999.

  • Heath J

    Hey, at least he rolled with the Vice President’s approved weapon..

    Hopefully the 2 folks he injured make it. If the net result of this is one crazy dead and a couple of injured, I’ll take it.