Nevada student opens fire outside middle school, wounds 2 boys and kills teacher, then self

SPARKS, Nev. (AP) — A student at a Nevada middle school opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun on campus just before the starting bell Monday, wounding two 12-year-old boys and killing a math teacher who was trying to protect children from their classmate.

The unidentified shooter killed himself with the gun after a rampage that occurred in front of 20 to 30 horrified students who had just returned to school from a weeklong fall break. Authorities did not provide a motive for the shooting, and it's unknown where the student got the gun.

Teacher Michael Landsberry was being hailed for his actions during the shooting outside Sparks Middle School.

"In my estimation, he is a hero. ... We do know he was trying to intervene," Reno Deputy Police Chief Tom Robinson said.

Both wounded students were listed in stable condition. One was shot in the shoulder, and the other was hit in the abdomen.

The violence erupted nearly a year after a gunman shocked the nation by opening fire in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., leaving 26 dead. The Dec. 14 shooting ignited debate over how best to protect the nation's schools and whether armed teachers should be part of that equation.

Landsberry, 45, was a military veteran and leaves behind a wife and two stepdaughters. Sparks Mayor Geno Martini said Landsberry served two tours in Afghanistan with the Nevada National Guard.

"He proudly served his country and was proudly defending the students at his school," Martini said.

On his school website, Landsberry posted a picture of a brown bear and took on a tough-love tone, telling students, "I have one classroom rule and it is very simple: 'Thou Shall Not Annoy Mr. L.'"

"The kids loved him," his sister-in-law Chanda Landsberry said.

She added his life could be summed up by his love of his family, his students and his country.

"To hear that he was trying to stop that is not surprising by any means," she said.

Police said 150 to 200 officers responded to the shooting, including some from as far as 60 miles away. Students from the middle school and neighboring elementary school were evacuated to the nearby high school, and classes were canceled. The middle school will remain closed for the week.

"As you can imagine, the best description is chaos," Robinson said. "It's too early to say whether he was targeting people or going on an indiscriminate shooting spree."

At the evacuation center, parents comforted their children.

"We came flying down here to get our kids," said Mike Fiorica, whose nephew attends the school. "You can imagine how parents are feeling. You don't know if your kid's OK."

The shooting happened on the school's campus and ended outside the school building, according to police.

"I was deeply saddened to learn of the horrific shooting at Sparks Middle School this morning," Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement extending his thoughts and prayers to those affected.

About 700 students in 7th and 8th grades are enrolled at the school, in a working class neighborhood.

"It's not supposed to happen here," Chanda Landsberry said. "We're just Sparks — little Sparks, Nevada. It's unreal."

The mayor praised the quick response from law officers who arrived at the scene within three minutes of a flood of 911 calls to find the gunman already dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"They got it under control very quickly and shut down the scene," Martini said.

A statement from Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed in the Connecticut shooting, appeared on the website of gun control advocacy group Sandy Hook Promise. "It's moments like this that demand that we unite as parents to find commonsense solutions that keep our children — all children — safe, and prevent these tragedies from happening again and again," the statement said.

The Washoe County School District held a session in the spring in light of the Newtown tragedy to educate parents on its safety measures. The district has its own 38-officer police department. No officers were on campus at the time of the shooting.

Sparks, a city of roughly 90,000 that sprung out of the railway industry, is just east of Reno.

"You see it on TV all the time. You just don't think it's going to happen to you," Martini said.

Associated Press

Bianca Flores is comforted by her sisters following the shooting that left two dead, including the shooter, at Sparks Middle School on Monday. A student at the school opened fire on campus just before the starting bell Monday, wounding two boys and killing a teacher who was trying to protect other children, Sparks police and the victim's family members said.

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Comments

So Sad

I just have to wonder what the parents of the shooter are feeling right now...they don't say the age of the shooter but I am thinking he did not buy this gun on his own, so where did he get it???? A responsible adult would not have left a gun out for a kid to get his hands on...what is wrong with this whole gun issue is there are not enough responsible adults around to justify their fight...like it or not this is how I feel and a whole lot of other people I have spoken with....I have no problem with owning guns for hunting, but I do when they get in the hands of the wrong people...I have to wonder also why the solution to end an argument or if you're pissed off is to shoot someone...parents are not setting a very good example for their kids if the solutions end in a shooting...that doesn't solve anything..

Noel Foss's picture

Claire:

You inadvertently touched on the actual problem:

"Parents are not setting a very good example for their kids if the solutions end in a shooting"

While parents can't be held solely responsible, this is a social problem, not a problem with guns themselves. Call it moral decay, call it a loss of respect for life, call it whatever you want, but the increase in school shootings points to a definite problem with how some of our Country's youth handles problems. And I'm not much removed from that crowd, being only in my late 20's myself (some older folks might still classify me as a youth, I guess).

You say you don't have a problem with owning guns for hunting. What about for sport shooting or home defense? The reason I ask is; does your problem lie with gun ownership itself, with the guns themselves, or solely with people who misuse them?

The tragedy above is clearly a case of misuse. However, the misuses are pretty much all you ever hear about in the news, which leads to something of a misguided opinion of gun owners in general.

Noel Foss's picture

Linda; not Claire

That's what I get for typing while I'm on the phone.
My apologies.

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