CBS News – A teen gunman armed with a rifle shot and killed a student Tuesday and injured a teacher before he likely killed himself at a high school in a quiet Columbia River town in Oregon, authorities said.
After the shooting stopped, police spotted the suspect slumped on a toilet in a bathroom at Reynolds High School but couldn’t see what was happening with him.
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 a 14-year-old freshman Emilio Hoffman, police Chief Scott Anderson said at a Tuesday news conference. He said Emilio was found in the boys’ locker room.
Anderson said he had met with the boy’s “devastated” parents and that they had a message for the public: “We want you to know Emilio was a great kid and was loved by all.”
Authorities have tentatively identified the gunman but were not “in a position to 100 percent confirm his name and age at this time.”
A law enforcement official told CBS News the shooter was also a student, but Anderson said he was not ready to release any more information about the suspect or his weapon, other than to say it was a rifle. Police could not say whether the victim was deliberately targeted.
Friends and schoolmates began posting tributes to Emilio on social media, CBS affiliate KOIN said.
“Wow I can’t believe that you are gone. RIP Emilio Hoffman. You were a great soccer player and a great friend,” wrote one Twitter user.
The teacher’s injuries weren’t life-threatening, and he was treated at the scene. He was identified as Todd Rispler, a 50-year-old physical education instructor and former track coach and quarterback at the school.
Anderson said Rispler, despite being injured, “was able to make his way to the office and initiate the school lockdown procedure.”
The attack panicked students after a lockdown was ordered 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.
Freshman Daniel DeLong, 15, said after the shooting that he saw a physical education teacher at the school with a bloodied shirt. He said he was texting friends to make sure they were all OK.
“It just, like, happened so fast, you know?” he 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.
Anderson said he was sorry for the family of the slain student. “Today is a very tragic day for the city of Troutdale,” the chief said.
Gov. John Kitzhaber added in a statement: “Oregon hurts as we try to make sense of a senseless act of violence.”
After the shooting, President Barack Obama reflected on gun violencein a Tumblr chat Tuesday, saying: “We’re the only developed country on earth where this happens, and it happens now once a week. …I mean, our levels of gun violence are off the charts, there’s no advanced developed country on earth that would put up with this.”
The first reports of shots fired came at 8 a.m. on the next-to-last-day of classes. Police initially seemed uncertain about whether there was a live shooter in the school.
Students were eventually led from the school with hands up or on their heads. Parents and students were reunited in a supermarket parking lot.
Mandy Johnson said her daughter called from a friend’s phone.
“I thank God that she’s safe,” said Johnson, who has three younger children. “I don’t want to send my kids to school anymore.”
Troutdale Mayor Doug Daoust said the shooting at the high school had affected the entire community.
“I hope that no other mayor around the United States goes through the emotional nightmare that we have gone through today,” he said.
Reynolds School District Superintendent Linda Florence said there would be no classes at the high school on Wednesday, which had been scheduled to be the last day before summer vacation.
Reynolds is the second-largest high school in Oregon, with about 2,800 students. The school is about 15 miles from Portland and its students come from several communities.
During the evacuation of the school, authorities found another student with a gun and he was taken into custody. That weapon and arrest were not related to the shooting, Anderson said.
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.
The Tuesday shooting was the first fatal school shooting in Oregon since May 1998 when 15-year-old Kip Kinkel killed two students and wounded 25 others at Thurston High School in Springfield near Eugene. He killed his parents prior to the attack and is serving a 111-year prison sentence.