A 15-year-old boy who allegedly opened fire on his high school classmates, and killed his best friend, simulated shootings in bizarre YouTube videos and was known to post violent messages on social media.
Caleb Sharpe walked into Freeman High School in Rockford, Washington, on Wednesday morning, armed with a rifle and a handgun, and started shooting, police say.
A boy, identified by witnesses as Sam Strahan, was shot in the head and killed when he confronted Sharpe in the hallway to try to stop the attack before it began.
Sharpe then gunned down and wounded three girls as students frantically ran down the corridors screaming.
A member of staff then heroically stepped in and put an end to the rampage, authorities have said. Students said the second floor, next to the school’s biology labs, was left covered in blood.
Terrified students were seen in photos hiding under desks in classrooms as the school was placed on lockdown. Sharpe was then apprehended and taken to a juvenile detention facility.
Michael Harper, a 15-year-old sophomore, said the suspect had brought notes in the beginning of the school year, saying he was going to do ‘something stupid’ and might get killed or jailed.
Harper said the shooter had many friends and was not bullied, calling him ‘nice and funny and weird’ and a huge fan of the TV show ‘Breaking Bad.’ He also said the suspect was obsessed with other school shootings.
Around a month before the attack, Sharpe posted a strange footage of himself shooting a toy gun. He added sound effects and graphics simulating gun blasts to the clip to make it appear more realistic.
The three wounded students were rushed to hospital and are expected to survive.
The shooter brought two weapons to Freeman High School in Rockford, south of Spokane, but the first one he tried to fire jammed, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told reporters.
‘He went to his next weapon,’ Knezovich said. ‘A student walked up to him, engaged him, and that student was shot. That student did not survive.’
The sheriff said the shooter fired more rounds down the hallway, striking the other students, before a school custodian approached the shooter and ordered him to surrender, Knezovich said.
Knezovich called it a courageous act that prevented further bloodshed.
The sheriff said a deputy who works as a school resource officer arrived shortly thereafter and took the shooter into custody.
Elisa Vigil, a 14-year-old freshman, said she saw one male student shot in the head who janitors covered with a cloth and another female student wounded in the back.
Harper said Sharpe had been watching documentaries about other school shootings before Wednesday’s incident.
‘One of my best friends brought a gun in a duffel bag to school and I guess three people were shot and one was killed and we all hid in the corner of our home room,’ Harper said.
‘We were all crying and texting. We heard the gunshot and heard everyone running and screaming.’
One student said Sharpe sent him photographs of a school shooting documentary he’d been watching recently but that he never imagined he would ever commit such violence.
‘I was thinking that maybe it wasn’t my friend but then I had an idea it was all the documentaries he’s been watching and thinking he sent me a picture on Snapchat when we were talking and it was a documentary and I was like: ‘There’s no way he could do this!’ Now I’m thinking he might actually have gone through with it.’
The shooting sent worried parents to the school in a frenzied rush, authorities said.
Brian Schaeffer of the Spokane Fire Department said the shooting was especially hard for first responders, many of whom have children at the school.
A two-lane road into the community of about 500 people near the Idaho border was clogged with vehicles.
Some people abandoned their cars on the street to make it to their children.
Cheryl Moser said her son, a freshman at Freeman High School, called her from a classroom after hearing shots fired.
‘He called me and said, ‘Mom, there are gunshots.’ He sounded so scared. I’ve never heard him like that,’ Moser told The Spokesman-Review newspaper.
‘You never think about something happening like this at a small school.’