SPARKS, Nev. – A Nevada middle school teacher is dead and two students injured after a young student at the school shot off numerous rounds from a handgun before shooting himself to death.
Police have not identified the shooter, a 12- or 13-year-old male student, who opened fire yesterday at Sparks Middle School in Sparks, Nevada – a town along the border of California. Dead is 45-year-old math teacher and Air National Guard reservist Michael Landsberry, Reuters reports.
Two students, who were not identified by authorities, were rushed to a Reno hospital where one of them underwent emergency surgery. One of the students was shot in the shoulder and the other in the abdomen, and both are now in stable condition, according to the news site.
Student Michelle Hernandez told the media she heard the student-gunman saying “Why you people making fun of me, why you laughing at me?” Monday morning.
Around 7:16 a.m., shortly before classes were scheduled to start for the day, the student “pulled out a weapon and just shot it. And scared all of us and we just started running,” eighth-grader Seth Hinchberger said, according to USA Today.
“A kid started getting mad and he pulled out a gun and shoots my friend, one of my friends at least,” Andrew Thompson, a seventh-grader at the middle school, told KOLO television station. “And then he walked up to a teacher and says back up. The teacher started backing up and he pulled the trigger.”
Thompson said he and other students tried to drag the injured teacher to safety, but the vice principal told them to run for cover. The details of what followed are less clear.
Hinchberger told the media the death toll could have been much higher. At one point, students piled on each other, “guys in the front … for the safety of the girls.”
“He said the shooter came over and appeared to aim at the pile, but was distracted by a teacher and started shooting in another direction,” USAToday reports.
Sparks Middle School is located in a city of about 90,000 and serves roughly 700 seventh- and eighth-graders. The melee didn’t last long, as law enforcement officers descended on the school within minutes. About 150 to 200 police secured the school and immediate area, Reno Deputy Police Chief Tom Robinson told USA Today.
Agents with the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security were also on scene, according to media reports.
“This is just a very sad day for us, a very tragic day,” Washoe County School District Superintendent Pedro Martinez said. The Sparks mayor and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval also made statements expressing their condolences.
Landsberry, the math teacher killed in the incident, was a former Marine and member of the Nevada Air National Guard. He’s being hailed as a hero for stepping in to save students.
“To hear he was trying to protect those kids, that he stepped up and tried to stop the situation, doesn’t surprise me at all,” Chanda Landsberry, his sister-in-law, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “He could have ducked and hid, but he didn’t. That’s not who he is.
“He was trained to help.”
Landsberry leaves behind a wife and two step-daughters, according to media reports.
A candle light vigil is planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Sparks Middle School.