Colorado's governor asked the nation Sunday for prayers for the 17-year-old girl who was critically wounded by a classmate at her suburban Denver high school.
Governor John Hickenlooper also credited security procedures adopted after the 1999 massacre at nearby Columbine High School for helping put a quick end to the Arapahoe High School shooting by Karl Pierson, an 18-year-old student who shot Claire Davis at point-blank range before killing himself.
"We all have to keep Claire in our thoughts and prayers," he told CBS' 'Face the Nation'. Davis is hospitalised at Littleton Adventist Hospital.
Hickenlooper told The Associated Press that Davis' parents "are remarkable people. I feel so directly their suffering. They raised this beautiful young woman who had her whole life ahead of her."
About 500 classmates held a candlelight vigil Saturday for Davis, who was sitting with a friend near the school library when she was shot in the head. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson has said investigators think she was shot at random by Pierson, who had gone into the school looking for a teacher with whom he had a dispute.
nursing a grudge
Pierson may have been nursing a grudge against the teacher - a librarian and head of the school debate team - since September. Pierson was on the team and had been disciplined by the librarian for reasons yet to be disclosed, the sheriff said. He said Pierson threatened that teacher in September and came to the school Friday intending to harm him and inflict numerous other casualties.
Pierson excelled at speech and debate and was passionate about the team, friends said. They described him as a smart student who apparently didn't shirk from confrontations in class.
Pierson legally bought a shotgun on December 6 at a local store, and he purchased ammunition the morning of the shootings. He managed to ignite a Molotov cocktail inside the school library before he killed himself as a fast-acting school security officer, a deputy sheriff, closed in, Robinson said.
That officer's aggressive response prevented more casualties, Robinson said. It's a tactic adopted nation-wide after Columbine, in which first responders cordoned off the school before pursuing two student gunmen inside. The two killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves.
"It's nice to see how well the system worked. It's a remarkable improvement from before. This could have been much, much worse," Hickenlooper said.