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Americas

Teenager turns gun on himself at Colorado school shooting

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-14

A teenage gunman opened fire at a Colorado high school on Friday, injuring a student before dying of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The shooting came a day before the one year anniversary of the Newtown school massacre.

The student entered Arapahoe High School at around midday brandishing the gun, and asked for the teacher by name before shooting and severely wounding a 15-year-old student, County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said.

The teacher immediately left the school when he learned the student was looking for him, Robinson said.

"He knew he was the target and he left that school in an effort to try to encourage the shooter to also leave the school," the sheriff said. "That was a very wise tactical decision."

The suspected gunman shot the student, who is in a critical condition, before apparently taking his own life. He has been identified as 18-year-old Karl Pierson, who was enrolled at the school.

A second student who was at first believed to have suffered a minor gunshot wound was merely splattered with blood from the severely injured student.

The shooting in the Denver suburb of Centennial took place just eight miles from the scene of one of the deadliest school massacres in US history at Columbine High School, where two students gunned down 13 classmates and staff before killing themselves in 1999.

Robinson said there was no sign the shooting was related to the anniversary, on Saturday, of last year's shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults before killing himself.

Earlier in 2012, a shooter killed 12 people at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado.

Lockdown

A Molotov cocktail-like incendiary device was detonated inside the school by the shooter, but a second such device did not go off and was rendered harmless by authorities.

Students were kept locked in their classrooms as police officers worked to secure the scene.

Holly Schaefer, an 18-year-old senior at Arapahoe High School, said she was in mathematics class when she and fellow students heard a loud bang. That was followed shortly by another bang and "then we knew definitely it was a gunshot."

Schaefer said her teacher immediately locked the door to the classroom as students huddled in a corner of the room.

After about 30 minutes, Schaefer said, they heard police calling out on the other side of the door. Officers eventually cleared the classroom and as students were being escorted out of the building, she said she saw blood on the hallway floor.

Debate team

Students told CNN the suspected shooter was a member of the school's track team and debate club, and described him as being smart and likeable. They said they would not have guessed that he was capable of such violence.

Local reports suggest the suspected gunman was upset after recently being kicked off the school debate team.

The sheriff said detectives were investigating "revenge" as a possible motive and said investigators believed the youth had acted alone.

Authorities said they planned to conduct searches of the suspected gunman's vehicle, which was left parked at the school, as well as two homes owned by his parents.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who pushed through tougher firearms legislation this year following the Newtown and Aurora attacks, called the shooting an "all-too-familiar sequence, where you have gunshots and parents racing to the school and unspeakable horror in a place of learning."

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS) 

Date created : 2013-12-14

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