BY NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, Associated Press
ROCKFORD, Wash. (AP) — A shooter opened fire at a high school in a tiny town in Washington state Wednesday, killing one student, injuring three others and sending worried parents to the school in a frenzied rush, authorities said.
Brian Schaeffer of the Spokane Fire Department told reporters that one child died at Freeman High School in Rockford, south of Spokane, while three injured victims were taken to a hospital and expected to survive.
“The shooter has been apprehended and is taken into custody,” he said.
Michael Harper, 15, a sophomore at the school, told The Associated Press that the suspect was a classmate who had long been obsessed with past school shootings.
Harper said the suspect had brought notes to Freeman High in the beginning of the year, saying he might get killed or jailed and that some students alerted counselors.
The shooter came into the school Wednesday carrying a duffel bag, Harper said. After shots were fired, students went running and screaming down the hallways, the teen said.
Harper said the shooter had many friends and wasn’t bullied, calling him “nice and funny and weird.”
Schaeffer, who didn’t release any information about a possible motive or the age of the suspect, said the shooting was especially hard for first responders, many of whom have children at the school.
A two-lane road into the community of about 500 people near the Idaho border was clogged with vehicles. Some people abandoned their cars on the street to make it to their children.
Cheryl Moser said her son, a freshman at Freeman High School, called her from a classroom after hearing shots fired.
“He called me and said, ‘Mom, there are gunshots.’ He sounded so scared. I’ve never heard him like that,” Moser told The Spokesman-Review newspaper. “You never think about something happening like this at a small school.”
Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital received three pediatric patients, spokeswoman Nicole Stewart said. They were in stable condition and surrounded by family, she said.
Authorities didn’t immediately release the ages of the victims.
Stephanie Lutje told The Associated Press that she was relieved to hear her son was safe after his high school near Freeman was put on lockdown. She commended the school district for its communication.
“It’s been amazing, within probably 15-20 minutes of hearing about it, I’d already received a phone call, I’d already received a text message saying that their school is OK,” she said.
She still worried for others she knew, including a co-worker who had yet to hear from her son, a sophomore at Freeman.
“My stomach’s in knots right now,” she said.
Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that “all Washingtonians are thinking of the victims and their families, and are grateful for the service of school staff and first responders working to keep our students safe.”