A teen gunman armed with a rifle shot and killed a 14-year-old student on Tuesday and injured a teacher before he likely killed himself at a high school in a quiet Columbia River town in Oregon, authorities said.
ALSO READ: Soul searching needed on gun control: Obama
The Oregon violence came less than a week after a gunman opened fire on a college campus in neighboring Washington state, killing a 19-year-old man and wounding two others. It follows a string of mass shootings that have disturbed the nation, including one on Sunday in Nevada that left two Las Vegas police officers and a civilian dead.
After the shooting stopped at the Oregon school, police spotted the suspect slumped on a toilet in a bathroom at Reynolds High School. Officers used a robot with a camera to investigate and discovered the suspect was dead and that he had likely killed himself, Troutdale police spokesman Sgt. Carey Kaer said.
The victim was identified as freshman Emilio Hoffman, who was ‘loved by all,’ police Chief Scott Anderson said at a Tuesday news conference. He said Hoffman was found in the boys’ locker room.
A girl who used to be Hoffman’s girlfriend said he was ‘a good kid’ and a ‘down-to-earth guy.’ “He was very caring, he loved to joke around,” said Savannah Venegas, 16.
Hoffman lived with his mother and had an older brother and two younger sisters, both in elementary school, Venegas said. Anderson said he spoke with Hoffman’s family, saying they had a difficult road ahead and sought privacy. Hoffman didn’t have enemies and “didn’t stir up trouble,” Venegas said.
“They wouldn’t have just picked him,” she said. “It had to be, just, random.” Authorities have tentatively identified the gunman but his name is being withheld until his family is notified, Anderson said.
The teacher, Todd Rispler, had injuries that were not life-threatening, and he was treated at the scene. Rispler, a 50-year-old physical education instructor and former track coach, went to the office and initiated the school lockdown, Anderson said. The attack panicked students and they were told to go quietly to their classrooms.
Freshman Morgan Rose, 15, said she hunkered down in a locker room with another student and two teachers.
“It was scary in the moment. Now knowing everything’s OK, I’m better,” she said.
Anderson said two on-campus police officers were the first to respond to reports of a shooting. The officers and a tactical team sent to the school “brought this to a conclusion,” the chief said, without elaborating.
“Oregon hurts as we try to make sense of a senseless act of violence,” Gov. John Kitzhaber said in a statement.
The first reports of shots fired came around 8 continued…