DENVER—Claire Davis, the 17-year-old student shot Friday at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., remains in a coma today. Karl Pierson, an 18-year-old student shot Davis at point-blank range after entering the school with the intent of killing the school’s debate team coach, with whom he held a grudge.
Davis’ parents released the following statement through Littleton Adventist Hospital in Littleton, Colo.:
“The first responders got Claire to the right place, at the right time, and the doctors and hospital staff are doing a wonderful job taking care of her. We appreciate your continued good thoughts and prayers, and will provide updates as her condition improves.”
Though Davis and Pierson both attended the school of 2,100-plus students, Davis did not know Pierson and was an innocent victim during his rampage. According to many of her friends interviewed by local ABC affiliate 7News, Davis was well-liked, kind, spunky and bright. Her Facebook page reveals a love of horses, especially her horse Graphite, whom she trained for jumping. Hundreds of students and families gathered at Arapahoe Park Saturday evening to hold a candlelight vigil on her behalf. One student started a campaign to raise money for the Davis family and was soon joined by the school’s parent-teacher organization to combine donations into one fund. Friends are using #PrayforClaire on Twitter to rally support.
“There’s no community like Arapahoe High School,” a tearful friend at the vigil told local NBC affiliate 9News. “And I hope Arapahoe High School is remembered for its amazing community instead of the shooting.”
Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Davison provided more details of Friday’s tragedy at a press conference on Saturday: On Dec. 6, Pierson legally purchased the shotgun used in the shooting. The morning of the shooting, he purchased ammunition later found strapped to his chest. Investigators said he planned to harm as many people as possible, bringing three Molotov cocktail bombs and a machete to the school.
But Pierson’s horrible spree lasted only 80 seconds before he took his own life. Officials believe he knew on-site security guards were closing in on him. When the first shots were fired, an armed school resource officer in the cafeteria and an unarmed security guard started running toward the sounds and screams to contain the shooter. Pierson found himself cornered in the library, where his debate coach worked as the school’s librarian, and killed himself before officers could engage him.
In an email to parents Sunday, Arapahoe High School principal Natalie Pramenko said school is canceled until after winter break, but teachers and students can return to the school later this week to retrieve belongings left there Friday and to meet with counselors. Parents are asked to trust the school administration and allow their children to enter the building “independently” to begin processing this tragedy.