SPARKS, Nev. – A student at a Nevada middle school opened fire on campus just before the starting bell Monday, wounding two boys and killing a math teacher who was trying to protect children from their gun-wielding classmate.
Teacher Michael Landsberry was being hailed for his actions outside Sparks Middle School, where 20 to 30 horrified students witnessed the shooting as they returned to classes from a weeklong fall break.
In my estimation, he is a hero. We do know he was trying to intervene, Reno Deputy Police Chief Tom Robinson said.
The unidentified shooter was killed along with Landsberry, a 45-year-old military veteran who leaves behind a wife and two stepdaughters. The motive for the shooting is still unknown. One of the wounded students is out of surgery and the other is doing well, police said.
Its unclear whether the student committed suicide, but authorities say no shots were fired by law enforcement. Police said 150 to 200 officers – some from as far as 60 miles away – responded to the shooting.
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 nations schools and whether armed teachers should be part of that equation.
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, said his sister-in-law Chanda Landsberry. She added that his life could be summed up by his love of his family, students and country.
To hear that he was trying to stop that is not surprising by any means, she said.
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. Its too early to say whether he was targeting people or going on an indiscriminate shooting spree.
The shooting occurred on the schools campus and ended outside the school building itself, 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 seventh and eighth grades are enrolled at the school, located in a working-class neighborhood.
Its not supposed to happen here, Chanda Landsberry said. Were just Sparks – little Sparks, Nev. Its unreal.
The Washoe County School District held a session in the spring in light of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting last year to educate parents on what safety measures the district takes.
Sparks, a city of 90,000 that sprung out of the railway industry, lies just east of Reno.