Colorado School Shooter Carried Other Weapons, Including Machete

On Friday, the eve of the anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shootings, an 18-year-old boy opened fire on his Colorado high school, a site just eight miles away from the Columbine High School that saw its own massacre in '99. After injuring two fellow students, the boy shot and killed himself — the whole thing was over within 80 seconds. But authorities are saying that the boy — identified as Karl Pierson — had been planning for a showdown: he'd walked into the building with three Molotov cocktails, ammunition strapped to his body, a shotgun, and a machete. The sequence of events happened blindingly quickly. Pierson entered Arapahoe High School during lunch, shot a round down a hallway, then headed towards the library. Along the way, he happened on 17-year-old Claire Davis, who he didn't know, and shot her point-blank in the head —"there was no time for the victim to run from the shooter," the county sheriff said. Pierson kept going, reached the library, fired another shot, detonated one of the Molotov cocktails (which set the bookshelves on fire), fired a fifth round, and then shot himself, fatally. "His intent was evil, and his evil intent was to harm multiple individuals," said Araphoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson. "He took no effort to conceal the fact that he was armed."In spite of this, according to authorities, Pierson had a clear target: the school librarian, who coached the school's debate team, of which Pierson was a part. Although the details haven't been disclosed, it seems the librarian had taken disciplinary action towards the teen that had ended in a “confrontation or disagreement", which may have provoked him into seeking revenge. Thanks to students who quickly alerted the librarian, the staff member was able to leave the building immediately. Davis, however, remains hospitalized in critical condition. Other teachers followed protocols put in place after Columbine, moving students to the backs of classrooms and locking doors, while security officials went straight to the shooter.

"That's straight out of Columbine," the president of National School Safety and Security Services, Kenneth Trump, told CNN. "The goal is to proceed and neutralize the shooter. Columbine really revolutionized the way law enforcement responds to active shooters."

"It's very unfortunate that we have to say that there's a textbook response on the way to respond to these, because that textbook was written based on all of the incidents that we've had and the lessons learned," Trump added.

One deputy sheriff, who was working as a school resource officer, reacted particularly efficiently. "It's a fairly long hallway, but the deputy sheriff got there very quickly. He went to the thunder," Sheriff Robinson said. "He heard the noise of gunshot and, when many would run away from it, he ran toward it to make other people safe." The massacre could've lasted a lot longer, and resulted in more injuries, if the sheriff hadn't been so effective.

As has often been the case with attacks of this kind, Pierson just didn't fit the typical idea of a "gunman," and fellow students have found it hard to believe it was him. They describe Pierson as a goofy, intelligent teen who was outgoing and participated in discussions, an Eagle Scout who finished at the top of debating and speech contests. "He was the last person I would expect to shoot up a high school," one high school senior said. "He was honestly incredibly humble and down to earth. He was a little geeky, but in a charming way." Pierson bought his shotgun, legally, at a local store a week before the shooting — anyone over 18 is allowed to purchase a shotgun in Colorado — and bought the ammunition on Thursday.

Colorado has been the site of a number of now-infamous shootings; in 1999, two students opened fire at Columbine High School, ending in the deaths of 15 people, including the shooters. In only July last year, shooter James Holmes began firing into the audience of a movie premiere at a theater in Aurora, killing 12 people and injuring 20. The theater is only sixteen miles from Arapahoe High School.

As Gov. John Hickenlooper said, this is an “all-too-familiar sequence, where you have gunshots and parents racing to the school and unspeakable horror in a place of learning."

[Image via CNN]