As a Colorado math teacher was being hailed a hero last week for tackling a man who shot and wounded two middle school students in a school parking lot, there was growing evidence the school missed a chance to head off the attack.
David Benke, 57, tackled Bruco Strong Eagle Westwood, an unemployed ranch hand who allegedly showed up at Deer Creek Middle School and started firing at students. Officials said the quick response was proof that the Jefferson County, Colo., community had learned the lessons of Columbine High School, located about three miles away, in quickly responding to the shootings.
Investigators said Mr. Eastwood walked through the doors of the school in Littleton earlier in the day, indicated he was a former student, and chatted with teachers.
Asked about the possible security lapse, Cindy Stevenson, the superintendent of the Jefferson County schools, said only that there is a sign-in sheet that requires visitors to state their name and the purpose of their visit.
Mr. Eastwood was jailed pending $1 million bail on suspicion of attempted murder. The students were recovering.
A version of this article appeared in the March 03, 2010 edition of Education Week as Colo. Middle School Questioned on Safety Following Shootings