Students gather and reunite with their parents at a fast
food joint across from Arapahoe High School, after a
student opened fire in the school. REUTERS/Evan Semon
A student bent on confronting a teacher opened fire with
a shotgun at a Colorado high school, wounding at least two
classmates before taking his own life, law enforcement
The student entered Arapahoe High School in a Denver suburb
around midday on Friday (local time) brandishing the gun and
asked for the teacher by name before shooting two students,
critically wounding a 15-year-old girl, said Arapahoe County
Sheriff Grayson Robinson.
The teacher immediately fled the school and was not injured,
while the gunman was later found in a classroom at the
school, dead of an self-inflicted gunshot wound, Robinson
said. The incident was over in 14 minutes.
"I believe the shooter knew that deputy sheriffs were
immediately about to engage him and I believe that shooter
took his life because he knew that he had been found," the
sheriff told a news conference.
Authorities did not name the suspected gunman.
The rampage in the Denver suburb of Centennial took place
just eight miles from the scene of one of the deadliest
school massacres in U.S. history at Columbine High School,
where two students gunned down 13 classmates and staff before
killing themselves in 1999.
Robinson said there was no sign the incident was related to
the anniversary on Saturday of last year's shooting at an
elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a gunman
massacred 20 children and six adults before killing himself.
Holly Schaefer, an 18-year-old senior at Arapahoe High
School, said she was in mathematics class when she and fellow
students heard a loud bang. That was followed shortly by
another bang and "then we knew definitely it was a gunshot."
Schaefer said her teacher immediately locked the door to the
classroom as students huddled in a corner of the room.
After about 30 minutes, Schaefer said, they heard police
calling out on the other side of the door. Officers
eventually cleared the classroom and as students were being
escorted out of the building, she said she saw blood on the
Classmates speaking to CNN described the suspected shooter,
who they said was on the school's track and speech and debate
teams, as smart and likeable. They said they would not have
guessed that he was capable of such violence.
The sheriff said detectives were investigating "revenge" as a
possible motive, but did not elaborate. The Denver Channel on
ABC News reported the suspected gunman was upset after
recently being kicked off the debate team. Reuters could not
immediately confirm that report.
Arapahoe senior Frank Woronoff told CNN the gunman had
recently been "demoted" on the debate team and that the
teacher he was said to be targeting was its adviser. "I'm
told that's what led him to sort of snap," Woronoff said.
Reuters was unable to contact the teacher, who was not
identified by authorities, but was named in local media
Authorities said searches were under way of the suspected
gunman's vehicle, his home, and a secondary home.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who pushed through
tougher gun control legislation this year following Newtown
and last year's attack in a Colorado movie theater, called
the shooting an "all-too-familiar sequence, where you have
gunshots and parents racing to the school and unspeakable
horror in a place of learning."
'WE SCREAMED AND RAN'
Television images from the high school showed students
running out with their hands raised and gathering on a track
Nearby businesses were evacuated as dozens of police
descended on the scene with guns drawn, on the scene.
Authorities said they did not engage in a confrontation with
the suspect, nor did they fire their weapons as they entered
the school and then methodically evacuated students
"We were having fun and laughing, and then all of sudden we
heard a really loud bang and my teacher asked what it was,
and then we heard two more, and we all just got up and
screamed and ran into a sprinkler system room," Whitney
Riley, 15, told CNN. "It sounded like it was coming from the
hall that was near us."
"We were shaking, we were crying, we were freaking out. I had
a girl biting my arm," she said. "We stayed quiet and we
heard a whole bunch of sounds. We heard people yelling, we
The most seriously wounded victim, identified only as a
15-year-old girl, was in critical condition at a local
hospital. Robinson said a second student had been treated and
released after suffering a minor gunshot wound.
A spokeswoman for Swedish Medical Center in Englewood,
Colorado, said her hospital had treated two victims from the
shooting incident, both of whom suffered non-gunshot
injuries. She said one of those patients was listed in good
condition and that the other had been discharged.
A device believed by police to be an improvised Molotov
cocktail was also found on the grounds and a bomb squad was
on hand to identify it and search for other possible