An AP government teacher is getting credit for stopping a shooting at North Thurston High School in Lacey, Washington.
Police say the teacher tackled the shooter after he opened fire Monday morning just before classes began. No one was injured, but the shooting left students and parents in a state of shock.
Student Liam Sedgwick heard the first shot. He said it sounded, “like maybe a table slamming,”
Senior Jeremy Craig also heard the gunfire -- it was near the gym. He said, “It sounded like weights were dropping in the weight room.”
Craig continued walking into the commons and said he was suddenly he looking at the shooter dressed in black.
“And he fired one round into the ceiling and I just turned around and ran outside,” he said.
After that second shot, Liam Sedgwick said, “Everybody started to run up the stairs screaming gunshots.”
Sedgwick and his girlfriend escaped the school and hid in a nearby neighborhood. Moments after that second shot, teacher Brady Olson stepped in.
“The teacher tackled the student,” said Jim Mack, a commander with the Lacey Police Department.
A reporter asked him how he would describe the actions of the teacher.
“It’s very heroic,” Mack responded. “He put his own self at risk to ensure that no one got hurt.”
In a statement, teacher Brady Olson says he “reacted in a way that any other teacher would react” at the sound of a gunshot and that he had help from a team.
The gunman is described as a 16-year old who recently transferred to the school. Police said he brought the six-shot revolver to school from home, and told them in an interview he had not intended to hurt anyone else. The school district said it had no indication the student might do something like this.
‘I thought I was going to die’
Whatever his motive, student Kiana Larsen said he definitely made a statement. She was in the commons when he came down the stairs and fired the second shot. She then tripped and fell trying to escape.
"I thought I was going to die because I couldn’t get up and all my friends were leaving,” Larsen said. “And I finally got up and I didn’t even look back. I just started running.”
Larsen spoke as she left campus with her mom after being interviewed by police. North Thurston High was closed for the rest of the day while investigators worked and bomb-sniffing dogs made sure the building was clear.
In the aftermath of the shooting, parents rushed to the school to reunite with their children. A school staffer told anxious parents, “The main building is still in lockdown. Okay? It’s clear, everything’s fine.”
But the parents were told they might have to wait a while to be reunified. Rebecca McQueen huddled with other moms. Her son is a sophomore at the school.
“I’m just freaking out,” she said through tears.
Other parents were frustrated. Some could see their children through the chain link fence standing on the football field -- but the gates were locked.
Heidi Burton, the mother of a ninth grader, said “I have driven around a whole city block, but I can’t get my kid.”
As parents waited, they texted with their teenagers and the story of what happened inside the school began to emerge. Emily Statler said her daughter was in the school commons area.
“She heard the gunshots, she looked over, she saw him doing it and ran,” Statler said. “That’s all she can remember, really. She’s kind of in shock.”
As Statler spoke, a news helicopter circled overhead. Eventually the stadium gates opened and the reunification of stressed out parents and terrified students began. Parents signed out their children and left with them wrapped in hugs.
The school will reopen Tuesday and counselors will be on hand.