A high school student in Rockford, Washington, brought a rifle and a handgun to school on Wednesday, killing one teen and injuring three others, The Spokesman-Review reports. The gunman, identified as a sophomore student, rode the bus to Freeman High School that morning with the guns in his bag.
Shooting victims are being treated at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, where the three injured students are in stable condition. A student who tried to intervene when the shooter’s gun jammed died as a result of his injuries from being shot. According to NBC News, more students might have been at risk if the weapon hadn’t initially jammed.
Law enforcement says the threat at Freeman HS has been eliminated and the kids are being accounted for. pic.twitter.com/sjA2Azl7F4
— Kierra Elfalan (@KierraKREM) September 13, 2017
Several gunshots broke out on the building’s second floor after 10 a.m. Wednesday morning. An eyewitness reported that the shooter looked “completely passive” after the first shot sounded. “He shot someone in the head,” a freshman student told The Spokesman-Review. “I crouched down in the hall…I looked to my right, and there was a boy and he was shot in the head.”
A janitor reportedly tackled the gunman, trapping him until authorities arrived at the school. Meanwhile, other students were locked down in classrooms until school officials and the sheriff’s deputies evacuated them about a half hour after the shooting.
— DaveSomers (@DaveSomers) September 13, 2017
Spokane Country Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich believes that the attack had to do with bullying. “These are senseless and tragic events that really don’t need to happen and I don’t understand them,” he told NBC. “I don’t think anybody can make any out of this but we need to figure out what’s gone wrong with our society that our children decide that they need to take weapons to deal with the issues that they’re facing.”
The shooter allegedly hinted at what he would do in notes to friends, writing that he planned to do “something stupid.” The Mirror reports that earlier this year, the teen posted a YouTube video in which he simulated a shootout.
Freeman High School has only 327 students, catering to a small town that seems to have never experienced anything quite like this. Following the traumatic shooting, Thursday classes have been cancelled.
“What has happened here is going to affect every child in the district in one form or another,” said Rockford Mayor Carrie Roecks. “I hope everyone stays as positive as we can be and the community just surrounds itself with a lot of love because we’re going to need it.”
The community is already banding together for support. The hashtag “Freeman Strong” has been created for people to offer thoughts and prayers for the victims and other students, while several vigils were held in the area Wednesday night to commemorate the school’s losses.
— Patrick Erickson KHQ (@patrickerickson) September 13, 2017
— Danamarie McNicholl (@KREMDanamarie) September 14, 2017
— Amanda Roley (@KREMAmandaRoley) September 14, 2017
The local impact of the shooting is even evident through authorities’ own tweets.
Worst day in my LE career.
To respond to your own kids school for active shooter.
Prayers for everyone involved. #FreemanHS
— Trooper J. Sevigney (@wspd4pio) September 14, 2017
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived a 2011 assassination attempt, even released a statement on the shooting. “We should never accept these horrific acts of violence as routine,” she wrote. “Our children deserve better, which is why we must stand together and call on our nation’s leaders to find the courage to take action and keep our children safe.”
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords releases statement on Freeman High School shooting. pic.twitter.com/4SGpdZW2c0
— Erin Robinson (@KREMErinR) September 13, 2017
The shooting suspect was quickly taken into custody once authorities arrived at the school and is currently in a juvenile lockup, waiting to be charged with a crime.