John Masterson walked up to an armed student and asking him to put down his shotgun

By Andrea Billups
Updated January 15, 2014 09:30 AM
Credit: Mark Wilson/Roswell Daily Record/Reuters/Landov

Social studies teacher John Masterson went above and beyond his classroom duties Tuesday when he talked a 12-year-old boy into putting down his weapons after the student went on a morning shooting spree at his school.

His bravery in disarming the shooter at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, N.M., is being praised by both the state’s governor and law enforcement, after Masterson intervened in the shooting, which injured two youths, including one critically, CNN reported.

“It’s one thing for an armed state police officer to enter a school and do his or her job,” said Pete Kassetas, chief of the state police. “It’s another thing for a teacher, staff member to intervene in the situation like this.”

Masterson, a veteran teacher and also a coach of track and soccer at the school, walked right up to the boy, a 7th grader, as the youth held onto a loaded .20-gauge shotgun, asking him to drop the weapon after the boy had walked in, pulled the weapon from a bag and brazenly opened fire in the gym.

The teacher was later joined by another school staff member, who sustained minor injuries in the shooting. The staff member denied medical treatment in order to comfort frightened students who were cornered by the gunman inside the gym.

The shooter, identified in media accounts as Mason Campbell, remains in police custody.

“Mr. Masterson was a hero who stood there and allowed a gun to be pointed right at him, and to talk down that young boy to drop the gun so that there were no more young kids hurt,” New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said in praising the teacher.

Masterson praised others when contacted by the Albuquerque Journal about the incident, which Martinez said lasted about 10 seconds. “It was a harrowing experience,” he said. “All I can say was that the staff there did a great job.”

The victims were identified as Kendal Sanders, 13, who was listed in satisfactory condition Tuesday night after surgery, and an 11-year-old boy, whose name was not released. He underwent two surgeries and was listed in critical condition with injuries to his neck and face CNN reported.