UPDATE (7 p.m. EST): Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said the victim in serious condition is currently in surgery and is a female student. In addition, she did not have a confrontation with the shooter as police first reported, but appears to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Robinson confirmed a second student was injured by the shooter and is in good condition at the hospital.
According to Robinson, when the teacher heard the student was looking for him, he left the school in an attempt to draw the shooter away from students “[That was] the most important tactical decision that he could have made,” he said.
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church quickly became overwhelmed with the number of students evacuated to the facility. Officials added another location three miles away, Euclid Middle School, making it difficult for parents desperate to find their children. Both high school and middle school parents stood in long lines outside the school as students were released one by one and traffic on the surrounding streets came to a halt.
Colorado police, teachers, and administrators have had extensive training in “active shooter protocol” since the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, when police waited to enter the building until specialized units arrived, which tragically led to the death of 15 students and one teacher. Now, police are trained to “go to the threat; don’t wait,” Robinson said. By following this protocol, the situation was contained within 15 minutes, perhaps saving lives.
Gov. John Hickenlooper said Colorado has seen too many tragedies like this, referring to the assaults on children at Columbine, Platte Canyon High School (2006), and now Arapahoe High School. “Gunshots, parents racing to the school, and unspeakable horror at a place of learning. … Our hearts and prayers are with the entire Arapahoe school community,” he said.
OUR EARLIER REPORT: DENVER—A student at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., shot at least one other student before killing himself this afternoon. The student entered the school’s west entrance at 12:30 p.m. MST with a shotgun and announced he was he was looking for a specific teacher. That teacher was informed and quickly left the building. Another student confronted the shooter and was shot.
“We have located the individual we identified as the active shooter. He is now dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said at a press conference. Authorities are not releasing the names of the students or teacher at this time.
The student who was shot was transferred by ambulance to the hospital and is in critical condition. Students were immediately put on lockdown and not allowed to leave the school. As SWAT teams secured the building, they found another student with a minor injury, but authorities are unsure if the injury is shooting-related.
After about an hour, news helicopters showed students exiting the school with arms raised and lining up on the school track for a body search before being evacuated by school buses for Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. Parents can pick up their students at the church.
“All I want to do right now is hug my son,” one waiting parent told a news crew with CBS4 Denver. Her husband was a freshman at Columbine High School when the shooting happened there in 1999. Arapahoe High School is only 8 miles from Columbine.