Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Roses and a sign of support are woven into a cyclone fence around a tennis court at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. The school was the scene of a shooting on Friday that left a student gunman dead and two other students injured. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Colorado governor visits school shooting victim
First Published Dec 15 2013 10:18 am • Last Updated Dec 15 2013 02:51 pm

Centennial, Colo. • Colorado’s governor asked the nation Sunday for prayers for the 17-year-old girl who was critically wounded by a classmate at her suburban Denver high school.

Gov. John Hickenlooper also credited security procedures adopted after the 1999 massacre at nearby Columbine High School for helping put a quick end to the Arapahoe High School shooting by Karl Pierson, an 18-year-old student who shot Claire Davis at point-blank range before killing himself.

Photos
Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"She’s obviously in a coma, in critical condition," Hickenlooper said of Davis, who is hospitalized at Littleton Adventist Hospital. "We all have to keep Claire in our thoughts and prayers. Her parents ... I can’t imagine what they’re going through. It’s unspeakable."

Hickenlooper made his remarks on CBS’ "Face the Nation."

About 500 classmates held a candlelight vigil Saturday for Davis, who was sitting with a friend near the school library when she was shot in the head. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson has said investigators think she was shot at random by Pierson, who had gone into the school looking for a teacher with whom he had a dispute.

Fellow students described Davis as a vibrant senior and equestrian with a lot of friends.

Pierson may have been nursing a grudge against the teacher — a librarian and head of the school debate team — since September. Pierson was on the team and had been disciplined by the librarian for reasons yet to be disclosed, the sheriff said. He said Pierson threatened that teacher in September and came to the school Friday intending to harm him and inflict numerous other casualties.

Pierson excelled at speech and debate and was passionate about the team, friends said. They described him as a smart student who apparently didn’t shirk from confrontations in class.

"He’s a funny kid. He’s smart. He’s in the Eagle Scouts, a very intelligent kid. Did not like being wrong," said August Clary, who was a friend of Pierson. "If you’re arguing with him, it’s going to be, that’s a feat if you win an argument against him."

"He would not be afraid to tell someone how he feels," said Zach Runberg, 18, a senior in Pierson’s English class.


story continues below
story continues below

Pierson legally bought a shotgun on Dec. 6 at a local store, and he purchased ammunition the morning of the shootings. He managed to ignite a Molotov cocktail inside the school library before he killed himself as a fast-acting school security officer, a deputy sheriff, closed in, Robinson said.

That officer’s aggressive response prevented more casualties, Robinson said. It’s a tactic adopted nationwide after Columbine, in which first responders cordoned off the school before pursuing two student gunmen inside. The two killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves.

Hickenlooper said that there are "strategies and protocols in place, where we had a deputy sheriff in the building who immediately ran towards the trouble."

"That’s a remarkable response, and I think everybody from the sheriff out here, Grayson Robinson, his entire team, they deserve a lot of credit for what could have been much, much worse."

Arapahoe High officials also immediately instituted a lockdown — something well-rehearsed at the school — with teachers and students hiding in closets and locking classroom doors.

After the Aurora, Colo., theater shootings and the Newtown, Conn., school shootings, Colorado’s Democrat-led legislature this year implemented gun control measures that limited the size of ammunition magazines and instituted universal background checks. Colorado also appropriated more than $20 million for mental health hotlines and local crisis centers.

The measures were intended to address violence associated with so-called assault rifles, not shotguns that are widely owned for hunting and sport.

Hickenlooper noted that Pierson was not a loner but cautioned that the investigation was in its early stages.

"He didn’t seem to have a mental illness," the governor said. "He had a lot of friends, he was outspoken. But again, there’s no rhyme or reason. We can’t — there’s nothing that says, ah, now I understand."

———

Associated Press writer P. Solomon Banda contributed to this report.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.