School Climate & Safety

Colorado High School is Site of Shooting on Eve of Newtown Anniversary

By Evie Blad — December 13, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A male student opened fire at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., today, seriously wounding one student before apparently shooting and killing himself, local authorities said in a press conference.

A third student also sustained minor injuries related to a gunshot, authorities said.

The gunman was targeting a specific teacher, who fled the school without injury.

The high school is in an area familiar with school shootings, the Los Angeles Times reported.:

Centennial is roughly 15 miles south of downtown Denver and less than 10 miles east of Columbine High School in Littleton, the scene of a shooting rampage in 1999, when two teenage shooters killed 12 classmates and a teacher."

Law enforcement officials speaking at a press conference streamed online would not identify the shooter or the injured students. A school resource officer at the high school immediately responded to the location of the shooter, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office said.

Streaming coverage from local television stations showed hundreds of students calmly walking out of the school and onto an adjacent track with their hands raised over their heads. Local reporters said the school practices routine drills to prepare its 2,100 students for lockdown and evacuation situations.

Students in various parts of the building remained on lockdown in the corners of dark classrooms until police cleared them to exit, the Denver Post reported.

The importance of such careful, practiced protocols is what many school safety contractors emphasized over costly new school security measures or broad new state laws in the wake of the Dec. 14, 2012 school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., we reported this week.

State lawmakers proposed a flurry of bills following that shooting, and the fraction that eventually became law largely related to planning and regular drills:

An Education Week analysis of measures tracked by the National Conference of State Legislatures found that state lawmakers proposed 442 bills and resolutions related to school safety and guns in schools since the Sandy Hook shooting. Of the 77 of those bills that were signed into law, 42 were related to school emergency planning. Those measures included new requirements in many states for districts to practice lockdown drills with the regularity of severe weather and fire drills, and the formation of school safety study groups."

It’s easy to understand why policy makers and educators at all levels seek model responses to situations like this.

I covered a meeting of Arkansas state legislators on the day of the Sandy Hook shootings. A somber committee leader led her peers in a moment of silence after informing them of the massacre and telling them national media could not yet report the number of victims. State senators later said they wanted to do whatever they could to prevent such situations in their state.

States around the country responded in a similar manner, with proposals ranging from arming school staff to incorporating security mandates into school building standards. A small portion of those standards passed.

Many national proposals, including restrictions on the sales of certain weapons, also stalled or failed to pass.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who has been outspoken about federal gun policy following the Newtown shooting, tweeted his feelings after learning of the situation at Arapahoe High School.

Top photo: Students comfort each other at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., on Friday, where a student shot at least one other student at the school before he apparently killed himself, authorities said. -Ed Andrieski/AP

Bottom photo: Students gather on the outdoor track as police respond to reports of a shooting at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo., on Friday. -KDVR TV/AP

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.