A student gunman fired off two shots inside a Washington state high school on Monday and was tackled by a teacher before anyone was hurt, averting a potentially deadly tragedy, police and students said.
The 16-year-old student, armed with a revolver, shot off two rounds that struck the ceiling inside a stairwell between the first and second floors of North Thurston High School in Lacey, about 5 miles east of the state capital, Olympia, Lacey police commander Joe Upton said.
A staff member at the school tackled the male student before more shots could be fired, and police took the teen into custody and were investigating, Upton said.
Nobody was hurt in the incident, the latest in a growing number of school shootings that have sparked a national conversation about school safety.
Police and school officials were planning to release more information on the incident later on Monday, authorities said. The gunman’s motive and possible intended targets were not yet known.
Police rushed to the building just as students were arriving for the day around 7:30 a.m., authorities said.
Panicked students fled the building after hearing the shots, local broadcaster KOMO reported.
“I heard a bang, but I thought it was a table that fell,” student Elora Shields told the station. “And then we heard it again, and then everyone started running. So I ran outside with my friends.”
Other students took to Twitter to commend the staff member, whom they identified as history teacher Brady Olson, for tackling the gunman. The school district has not publicly identified him.
“I owe Mr. Olson my life. I think we all do. I wouldn’t have had the courage to do that,” student Joseph Delacruz said.
North Thurston Public Schools said classes were dismissed for the day, and police were searching the building. Parents were being reunited with their children at the high school stadium, the district said in a statement.
A nearby middle school was holding classes as usual, the statement said.
In October, a freshman at a high school in Marysville, Washington, north of Seattle, used a handgun that belonged to his father to fatally shoot four classmates inside the school cafeteria before taking his own life.
(Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Susan Heavey and Peter Cooney)