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Nevada student opens fire, kills teacher and himself

By Scott Sonner

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 03:54 p.m. HST, Oct 21, 2013

SPARKS, Nev. >> A student at a Nevada middle school opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun on campus just before the starting bell today, 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. Authorities did not provide a motive for the shooting, and it's unknown where the student got the gun.

Teacher Michael Landsberry was being hailed for his actions during the shooting outside Sparks Middle School.

"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, Conn., 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.

"He proudly served his country and was proudly defending the students at his school," Martini said.

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," his sister-in-law Chanda Landsberry said.

She added his life could be summed up by his love of his family, his students and his country.

"To hear that he was trying to stop that is not surprising by any means," she said.

Police said 150 to 200 officers responded to the shooting, including some from as far as 60 miles away. 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. "It's too early to say whether he was targeting people or going on an indiscriminate shooting spree."

At the evacuation center, parents comforted their children.

"We came flying down here to get our kids," said Mike Fiorica, whose nephew attends the school. "You can imagine how parents are feeling. You don't know if your kid's OK."

The shooting happened on the school's campus and ended outside the school building, 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 7th and 8th grades are enrolled at the school, in a working class neighborhood.

"It's not supposed to happen here," Chanda Landsberry said. "We're just Sparks -- little Sparks, Nevada. It's unreal."

The mayor praised the quick response from law officers who arrived at the scene within three minutes of a flood of 911 calls to find the gunman already dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"They got it under control very quickly and shut down the scene," Martini said.

A statement from Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed in the Connecticut shooting, appeared on the website of gun control advocacy group Sandy Hook Promise. "It's moments like this that demand that we unite as parents to find commonsense solutions that keep our children -- all children -- safe, and prevent these tragedies from happening again and again," the statement said.

The Washoe County School District held a session in the spring in light of the Newtown tragedy to educate parents on its safety measures. The district has its own 38-officer police department. No officers were on campus at the time of the shooting.

Sparks, a city of roughly 90,000 that sprung out of the railway industry, is just east of Reno.

"You see it on TV all the time. You just don't think it's going to happen to you," Martini said.

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allie wrote:
troubled reno
on October 21,2013 | 06:40AM
lowtone123 wrote:
It was in Sparks.
on October 21,2013 | 03:43PM
mrluke wrote:
I thought guns were illegal in schools (?)
on October 21,2013 | 08:52AM
Skyler wrote:
on October 21,2013 | 08:55AM
mrluke wrote:
It's called sarcasm!
on October 21,2013 | 10:26AM
zhawaii wrote:
I have a lot of family in Sparks/Reno. They have lived there for over 15 years. I have visited many times and it is nice and quite. They like it there. Just like any place, including Hawaii, you have bad apples. How many more innocents must die before people began to realize that stricter gun control laws are needed?
on October 21,2013 | 08:55AM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
Please enlighten me of what gun law would've prevented this?
on October 21,2013 | 09:15AM
mrluke wrote:
Well, for instance, schools have banned pictures of guns on shirts, drawings of guns by six-year olds, pointing your finger like a gun, saying "bang bang", carrying a key chain shaped like a miniature gun - My God, they've done so much to end this senseless violence. WHY is it still happening??
on October 21,2013 | 10:26AM
mrluke wrote:
I guess that the most logical and effective step they've taken is to ban all firearms and references to firearms from school campuses. That way, when something bad happens, they can call 911 and wait for the people with guns to come and save them!!
on October 21,2013 | 10:33AM
saveparadise wrote:
lol, drugs are illegal; check, drunk driving is illegal; check, speeding is illegal; check, assaulting and robbing people is illegal; check, killing another person by any means is definitely illegal; check. Now that we have it all covered we should be safe anywhere right? Insanity continues...........
on October 21,2013 | 10:58AM
Slow wrote:
More guns inschools! Just makes common sense. More guns less shooting. Is there something illogical about this? WAIT! The Constitution says I get a bazooka! I WANT MY BAZOOKA!! NOW, COMMIES!!!
on October 21,2013 | 11:32AM
Slow wrote:
Couldn't be that we are the most heavily armed country on earth could it? We almost double the rate of #2. Yet many apparently believe more guns will reduce shooting. Make sense to you?
on October 21,2013 | 11:30AM
allie wrote:
agree with my slow
on October 21,2013 | 03:30PM
SteveToo wrote:
So do you think if that vet/teacher had a handgun he could have shot the kid instead of getting killed himself?
on October 21,2013 | 08:25PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Mandatory trigger locks with a requirement that parents keep the key away from kids? Hey not the most practical but you ask the question.
on October 21,2013 | 11:43AM
kahuku01 wrote:
dontbelieveinmyths: Non what so ever. Like most of the shootings at schools, theater, college, military base and other places, shootings by crazy people couldn't have been prevented. We never know when a wacko will commit a heinous crime as in the past. Right to bear arms is our constitutional right but there still should be strict gun laws like background check, and banning all assault weapons, Assault weapons should be authorized to be use by law enforcement and military only. This incident is not the last because there are a lot of wackos and copy cats out there, on the verge to commit stupid and unnecessary shooting. Adults and parents must be more responsible with the security of their weapons from children.
on October 22,2013 | 05:09AM
paradiddle wrote:
Prayers to the families of those involved in this tragedy. That said, how about we wait until facts are available before we look to blame guns, lack of gun control, etc etc etc.
on October 21,2013 | 12:28PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
Because that would be to reasonable? No seriously, well said and on point.
on October 21,2013 | 01:35PM
hikine wrote:
How could a middle school student able to get hold of a gun? Fingers will point to the parents if indeed it came from home.
on October 21,2013 | 04:55PM
solo3808 wrote:
The only way to prevent this is to place police officers in all schools. What are we waiting for Governor Abercrambie. This is the only solutions. The schools are state funded and should be provided state law enforcement. This would prevent the small crimes that take place everyday in schools. It will also free up the Honolulu Police Department from baby sitting the schools all day and letting crimes in out neighborhoods rise because the officers assigned to the area are in the schools all day. Willie Espero you can't figure this one out yet. All those violent video games your kids are playing is contributing to our society that is crime ridden. You paid officials need to do something instead of collecting your free pay checks and stop worrying about same sex marriages.
on October 21,2013 | 05:44PM
false wrote:
solo3808: I agree with you about the state having a public school police force like they do in Las Vegas. Public schools do come under the state jurisdiction so why not have a public school police force. As you've mentioned, HPD (City & County police force) could be taking care of their functions instead of having to baby sit the schools all day or being present at any school function, especially sports events during non school hours. Having a state school police force will surely monitor schools during school and after school functions.
on October 22,2013 | 07:07AM
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