1 Student Killed and 3 More Injured in Shooting at Washington State High School: 'Mom, There Are Gunshots'
Police and emergency crews responded late Wednesday morning to reports of a shooting at a high school outside Spokane, Washington
Officials say one student was killed and three more were injured in a shooting Wednesday morning at Freeman High School outside Spokane, Washington.
The shooting began “shortly after 10 a.m.,” the Spokesman-Review reports. Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer confirmed the casualties at a news conference later Wednesday.
A suspect — who has not been identified — has been taken into custody, Schaeffer said. Investigators plan on speaking with 300 people.
“The shooter is in the back seat of a patrol car right now,” Spokane County, Washington, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said at the scene, according to the Spokesman-Review.
According to Knezovich, the shooting appears to have been the result of bullying.
Speaking to local media outside the school, Knezovich said the suspect tried to shoot one gun, which jammed, before pulling out a second gun.
The suspect fatally shot one student who tried to intervene, Knezovich told reporters. He then shot and injured three more students, local TV station KXLY reports. He was stopped by a member of the school’s faculty.
The four victims were not further identified by authorities. The three survivors are in stable condition, Schaeffer said.
“We’re all hands on deck,” Dr. Jeff Collins, the chief physician at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, told the Spokesman-Review. “We train for this regularly.”
The paper described an anxious scene outside Freeman, which reportedly has about 330 students, as parents gathered by caution tape trying to reach their children while a procession of emergency vehicles — law enforcement, firefighters and ambulances — surrounded the scene.
At 10:30 a.m., a Twitter user claiming to be a junior at Freeman High shared a photo of purported classmates sitting on the floor.
“At Freeman elementary currently. I am a junior, evacuated from the high school. At least 4 shots,” they wrote in the post.
One parent told the Spokesman-Review that her son, a freshman at Freeman, had called her from inside the school that morning.
“He called me and said, ‘Mom, there are gunshots,’ ” she said. “He sounded so scared. I’ve never heard him like that. You never think about something happening like this at a small school.”
Friends and Students Speak Out: Suspect Was ‘Kind of an Outsider’
While little is known about the suspect, Freeman High students described him as “a nice kid” who kept to himself.
One friend of the suspect recalled how weeks earlier he allegedly handed out troubling notes to his friends.
“[They] said that he was going to do something stupid, where it either might get him killed or in jail,” the friend told KXLY.
According to the friend, a school counselor was notified of the notes. School and district officials could not be reached for comment by PEOPLE.
“[He was] a nice kid from what I saw, he was kind of an outsider, I guess, but I never thought he would do something like this,” another student told the TV station outside the high school.
“You know everyone here. When you go to a small school like this, it’s hard not to know [everyone],” the student continued. “It’s a small school so one person gets hurt and it affects everyone.”
In a statement, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee extended the state’s thoughts and gratitude, according to the Spokesman-Review.
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,” Inslee said. “As Spokane County officials continue their investigation to get the answers to the questions so many of us have during these unthinkable tragedies, the Washington State Patrol and all state agencies will do whatever we can to help provide support and comfort in the days and weeks to come.”