High school shooting in Colorado; local safety

ST. GEORGE – A student gunman involved in a school shooting at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., has been confirmed dead by what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot according to ABC7’s TheDenverChannel.com Friday.

Around 2:15 p.m. the Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson confirmed the suspected gunman, an Arapahoe High School student, dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The incident remains under investigation.

The shooter is reported to have been armed with a shotgun, dressed in military type attire and looking for a specific teacher by name, Robinson said. ABC7 reported a janitor found the teacher and helped to remove the teacher safely to his truck.

One student was shot, is in critical condition and undergoing surgery, according to later reports by ABC7. Early reports said that student confronted the shooter, but later reports said the victim may have just been in the area where the shooter was when he was shot.

Another student was found with injuries.

Hundreds of students were evacuated from the high school and schools throughout the area were placed on lockdown or lockout.

According to U.S. News on NBCnews.com, authorities have said they have no indication of a second shooter but were proceeding as though there might be one as a matter of caution.

Following a press conference, Robinson is reported to have said he believes the police have the matter under control.

Washington County School District 

Locally, district and law enforcement officials working together have taken every measure they can think of for safety, Washington County School District’s executive director of secondary schools, Craig Hammer, said.

The district’s security and safety measures are many. There are security cameras at all of the high schools and middle schools, for example. A safety committee meets to address concerns, incidents, procedures monthly. But Hammer said the thing that he believes is the most effective safety measure in place with the secondary schools in Washington County are the resource officers.

Resource officers are drawn from several law enforcement agencies, St. George Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Santa Clara-Ivins Department of Public Safety, among them, rotating in and out of the schools building relationships with the students and keeping a pulse on what’s going on.

In 1993, Washington County School District went to a resource officer system in which law enforcement agencies work with the school district, maintaining a resource officer in every middle and high school in the County, 17 schools in all, Hammer said. So the system has been perfected over 20 years, he said.

“One of the reasons we went to resource officers at every school,” Hammer said, “was not because of violence but because we decided you can put a fence at the top or an ambulance at the bottom.”

Somebody always knows something, Hammer said, and is afraid to talk. Many of the resource officers have served on the gang task force and are especially equipped to see things and resolve issues directly. These officers build relationships with the students which puts them in a position to solve many problems early on.

Whether Arapahoe High School has resource officers or whether having them could have mitigated today’s shooting, Hammer said he did not know. Resource officers in schools are almost standard across the country today, he said.

Arapahoe recalls to mind previous school shootings

The Arapahoe High School shooting comes one day before the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., last year.

Arapahoe High School, at 2201 East Dry Creek Road in Centennial, is 8-9 miles away from Columbine High School, 6201 South Pierce Street in Littleton, the scene of a school shooting on April 20, 1999, when two students shot and killed 12 students and a teacher.

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