LAS VEGAS/SPARKS NEVADA – A middle school student 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, police said at a news conference. Authorities did not provide a motive for the shooting, and it is unknown where the student got the gun.
Teacher Michael Landsberry was being hailed for his actions outside Sparks Middle School during the shooting.
“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, Connecticut, 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.
Police said 150 to 200 officers responded to the shooting, including some from as far as about 100 km away. Students from the middle school, most of them 12 and 13 years old, and a neighboring elementary school were evacuated to the nearby high school, and classes were canceled. The middle school will remain closed for the week.
Elsewhere in the state, an ex-convict with a history of alcohol-related arrests at Las Vegas Strip clubs was identified as the man who opened fire in an after-hours casino nightclub early Monday, wounding two employees and killing a patron who tried to stop him following a dispute about a $30 cover charge.
Witnesses told police the suspected gunman started shooting Monday because he was upset he did not get a refund of an admission charge that casino spokeswoman Celena Haas-Stacey said amounted to $30.