Police seek motive for Colorado shooting

Published: Sunday | December 15, 2013 Comments 0
Students, escorted by armed police, are led out of Arapahoe High School after a shooting on the campus in Centennial, Colorado, last Friday. - AP
Students, escorted by armed police, are led out of Arapahoe High School after a shooting on the campus in Centennial, Colorado, last Friday. - AP

CENTENNIAL, Colorado (AP):

Investigators yesterday were working to find out what motivated a teenage gunman to enter his suburban Denver high school armed with a shotgun looking for a specific teacher a day earlier.

Quick-thinking students at Arapahoe High School last Friday alerted the targeted educator, who quickly left the building.

The 18-year-old shooter, identified by authorities as Karl Pierson, critically wounded a 15-year-old student, but the strategic response by police on the eve of the Newtown massacre anniversary appears to have averted more bloodshed.

SUICIDE COMMITTED

About a half hour after wounding the girl, Pierson was found dead in the school, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"I believe the shooter took his life because he knew he had been found," Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said.

Two other students were treated for minor injuries and released.

Robinson said Pierson, a senior who participated in debate activities, had had an altercation with the teacher, but the sheriff did not provide details or elaborate on a motive.

Authorities evacuated hundreds of students in an orderly procession, a demonstration of aggressive security measures developed by police and schools following the 1999 shooting at Columbine, some eight miles west of Arapahoe High. All of the students there started school after Columbine and grew up in a security-conscious era.

After that tragedy, police across the country developed "active shooter" training in which responding officers rush towards gunfire, and step over bodies and bleeding victims if necessary, to stop the gunman.

"The first deputy sheriffs and police officers that were on scene immediately entered the school to engage the shooter if they could locate that individual and keep the other students safe," Robinson said.

He said Pierson made no attempt to hide his weapon while entering the school from a parking lot and asking for the teacher by name.

When the teacher learned that he was being targeted, he left "in an effort to try to encourage the shooter to also leave the school," Robinson said. "That was a very wise tactical decision."

Students heard shots and cowered in classrooms while awaiting word on what had happened.

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